Joint NTUC-SNEF Taskforce calls for better treatment of PMEs

TL;DR The Joint NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce released a recommendations report earlier on Wednesday (20 Oct) after consultation with more than 10,000 professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs), union leaders, and business leaders.

So, what does the report tell us? 

In an online survey conducted in July 2021 on 1,000 mature PMEs (aged 40 – 60), the majority of mature PMEs expressed challenges in employment search and attributed age as the key reason. Some examples of concerns cited are as follows: 

  • Heavier financial obligations such as elderly parents to support; school-going children to support; mortgages; loans; and other bills to pay 
  • Discrimination at work 
  • Health issues beginning to set in, resulting in additional unexpected expenses

They felt that having measures such as short-term salary support, support in employment, and training opportunities will help improve their employability.

Recommendation 1: Enhance fair employment practices 

Improving HR standards; for example increasing the take-up of Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) certification. Companies with more than 200 employees should also ensure that HR personnel are equipped with IHRP or internationally recognised certification. Strengthen enforcement on errant companies by improving public communications on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) and channels for reporting unfair hiring practices, and strengthening TAFEP’s enforcement power.

Recommendation 2: Strengthen Singaporean core

Enhance the EP application review process by incorporating a point(s) system which considers a range of factors beyond the individual applicant’s education qualification and salary. Facilitate the skills transfer to local PMEs from foreign specialists through further strengthening skills transfer schemes such as extending, expanding and enhancing the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP) to facilitate mandatory capability transfer. 

Recommendation 3: Widen support for PMEs 

With a review of legislation on PME’s representation, the Joint NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce recommends setting up a tripartite workgroup to review the scope of union representation of PMEs.

Recommendation 4: Strengthen unemployment income support for involuntary unemployed PMEs 

Introduction of a national transitionary support framework to provide supplementary income relief and assistance to those who are involuntarily unemployed, supplemented by active Labour Market Policy. Also, with the setting up of Tripartite WorkGroup to assess feasibility, conditions and size of support. There will also be an additional tier of support for union members and vulnerable / mature PMEs.

Recommendation 5: Assist mature PMEs to transit into meaningful employment through short-term salary support

This includes;

  • Short-term salary support for companies who hire mature PMEs with relevant skills, support training courses and mentorship programmes for relevant roles. 
  • Fast track training programmes with certification to aid mature PMEs to transit into relevant roles.

Recommendation 6: Build Singaporean leadership bench strength

This includes;

  • Support leadership development programmes for Singaporean PMEs
  • Facilitate global development of Singaporean talent

Recommendation 7: Provide customised career coaching support for PMEs

  • Provide customised career coaching support to PMEs through professionally trained career coaches supported by NTUC and SNE
  • Support/expand funding of career coaches to NTUC/SNEF to guide and support PMEs in companies

Recommendation 8: Develop structured jobs and skills plans for PMEs through Company Training Committees (CTCs)

Develop structured jobs and skills plans for PMEs through Company Training Committees (CTCs), to upskill workers in line with business and industry requirements:

  • Align employers’ and employees’ common interest for business and workforce transformation to co-create training plans
  • Expand resources for NTUC to outreach and support more sectors and companies (including SMEs)
  • There will also be support training courses and mentorship programmes for relevant roles. 

Recommendation 9: Strengthen the nexus between tripartite partners

  • This helps to prepare the workforce for economic transitions and investment pipelines. 
  • Reposition existing NTUC’s Job Security Council (JSC) as NTUC-SNEF JSC to strengthen the jobs ecosystem
  • NTUC-SNEF JSC will work with MOM and the relevant government agencies to improve the employment prospects and create good jobs for Singaporeans, and ensure that training needs are incorporated into Institutes of Higher Learning curriculum, in tandem with the fast-changing economic landscape

The task force has submitted its full report on the nine recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower for the Government’s consideration.

Responding to questions from reporters on the implementation of the proposals, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng, who is an adviser to the PME task force, said that some can be rolled out by NTUC and SNEF, while others are tripartite actions that require the Government’s concurrence. On the issue of unemployment support, the policy details will need to be looked into by the Government.

NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay who co-chairs the task force, also added these are things that the task force feels very strongly about and are voicing it and advocating it, and it’s for Government to respond and to do a deeper dive and think about, because it affects policies.

The task force said that in the next decade, Singapore will experience significant demographic shifts, with more PMEs in the workforce and a rapidly ageing workforce.

COVID-19 has impacted the global economy while mass adoption of digital technologies has hastened and the geopolitical environment is seeing a much more fragmented world.

“Singapore will need to transform urgently to stay competitive, while ensuring that Singaporeans’ aspirations are met now and for the new economy,” said NTUC and SNEF in its press release.

To read the full report, you can download it here.

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