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NTUC's Patrick Tay on job opportunities and progress in the financial sector

Last Friday (1 November), Patrick Tay, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Banking and Financial Services Union Executive Secretaryshared a blog post about recent economic forecasts and growing job opportunities in Singapore's financial, ICT and professional services cluster.

He shares, the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee (FSTC) was launched on 17 February 2016, to allow the tripartite and industry stakeholders in the sector to collectively map the way forward for the sector in the area of manpower, jobs, and skills.

When it was launched in 2017, the Industry Transformation Map for Financial Services had set a target to annually create 4,000 jobs in financial services and fintech. According to latest figures by MAS, an average of 4,900 jobs in these two sectors were created annually from 2016 to 2018, surpassing that target.

Tay adds: "It also seems that we are on track to meet the 4,000 target again this year. In the same vein, with the five digital banks starting operations on 1 July next year, we are hopeful that even more jobs will be created."

He shared this in line with a report he cited by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, wherein it was revealed that the country's GDP growth forecast for 2019 had been downgraded to 0-1%, down from a forecast of 1.5-3.5% growth at the start of the year.

Tay commented: "As our tripartite partner, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Managing Director Ravi Menon had predicted, the US-China trade war has affected global manufacturing, trade and investments.

"Singapore has felt the pinch of this trade war as well. Investments have slowed given the uncertainty. This puts our trade financing and operations in a short-term 'limbo'."

While this is so, Singapore has yet to see a huge spike in retrenchment numbers this year. However, Tay added: "If we look at the retrenchment numbers quarter-for-quarter in the last four years, the service sector, especially in the financial services sector, contributed to a considerable number of total retrenchments.

In fact, according to the Labour Market Report by the Ministry of Manpower, 72% of retrenchments in Q2 2019 were from the services sector, with about 17% coming from the financial services. As Tay pointed out, these retrenchments were mostly attributed to the restructuring and reorganisation of foreign banks.

"There will still be pockets of layoffs, although the numbers are expected to be small. But make no mistake about it. Although there won't be severe job losses, there will undoubtedly be serious transformation."

There is still hope: Not all is doom and gloom

Despite these figures, Tay stressed: "Not all is doom and gloom. According to MAS, the modern services cluster, which includes financial, ICT and professional services, will be the main sectors that will help the economy avoid a major recession.

"On the ground, we are also seeing this observation bearing truth and fruit. The demand for and the investments in these services are gradually increasing as the sector undergoes transformation."

He also reiterated that employees do have access to many avenues in seeking career advice and getting matched to the right jobs.

These include Careers Connect, a one-stop centre providing career advisory and job matching services to individuals in the financial industry; NTUC LearningHub, which is working with our local banks to drive training and mindset change; as well as the Skills Framework for Financial Services and a recent MOU inked by the Singapore Insurance Employees Union with 23 companies to set up training committees.

Photo / NTUC

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