New joint task force to champion protection of local PMEs

SINGAPORE – Professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), particularly older ones, now have a champion in the form of a new task force that aims to protect their career prospects and keep them relevant for the new economy.

This was announced on Tuesday (Oct 27) by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Ng Chee Meng, who said PMEs, especially those aged between 40 and 60, are more vulnerable due to economic transformation and technological disruption.

Co-led by NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) executive director Sim Gim Guan, the task force comprises union and industry representatives from the industrial, service and public sectors.

Mr Ng and SNEF president Robert Yap will be its advisers.

During his keynote speech at the Labour Research Conference 2020 on Tuesday, Mr Ng outlined the task force’s three key areas of focus.

It will work towards enhancing employability and reducing risk of retrenchment; encouraging employers to retain and build capabilities for the workforce; and enabling PMEs through upskilling and reskilling.

Over the next six months, the group will engage PMEs and employers through polls, focus group discussions and events to identify key concerns, needs and potential skill gaps in the workforce.

It will also work with the Government to review policies impacting PMEs and conduct research to gain insight on future trends, jobs and skills.

Through these engagements, it aims to provide recommendations on government policies, best human resource practices and enable PME training by May 1 next year.

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Mr Tay, a labour MP, said local PMEs have been greatly impacted by the recession, with the situation likely to worsen as the Singapore economy continues to experience the ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Against this backdrop, we need to ensure our PMEs are adequately protected, have access to good jobs and are equipped with relevant skills, so they can thrive in this new normal,” said Mr Tay.

Data from the Ministry of Manpower shows that professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) made up half of local retrenchment figures in the second quarter of this year.

This group also saw a slower rate of re-employment within six months of being retrenched.

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng speaking to reporters in August 2020 about the PME task force. PHOTO: NTUC

SNEF’s Mr Sim said: “I strongly believe that for businesses to thrive, our people must thrive too. Therefore, it is timely that we come together to look at how we can better support our PMEs, especially our mature PMEs, to meet the manpower demand of employers and help drive their business sustainability and growth agenda.”

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