One year on: Progress on NTUC & SNEF's 9 recommendations to aid PMEs in Singapore

One year on: Progress on NTUC & SNEF's 9 recommendations to aid PMEs in Singapore

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The tripartite partners are working to certify and train 12,000 HR professionals by 2025 to be equipped to improve compliance with fair and progressive employment / workplace practices.

Last year, the joint National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) - Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) PME Taskforce (PME TF) released nine recommendations to strengthen professionals, managers and executives’ (PMEs) employment and employability; and enable PMEs to compete fairly and more effectively in the labour market.

The nine recommendations, under four key thrusts, were proposed after a series of ground engagement with over 10,000 PMEs, union leaders and business leaders. Since the release of the recommendations on 20 October 2021, both NTUC and SNEF have been engaging and working closely with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), agencies, and organisations to explore the PME TF’s recommendations further in an effort to better address PMEs’ aspirations and concerns in the workplace.

One year on, both PME TF Co-Chairs, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay and SNEF Executive Director Sim Gim Guan, have provided an update on the progress of the PME TF’s recommendations and shared what these would mean to PMEs. 

Among the updates, several recommendations stood out to address PMEs’ concerns of a lack of job security and their requiring of greater support in employment and training opportunities.

Key highlights on progress of the recommendations

(a) Enhancing fair employment practices through improving HR standards and strengthening enforcement against errant companies adopting unfair practices

Per the statement, the upcoming workplace fairness legislation will lay the foundation to give TAFEP legislative powers so that it can improve workplace fairness and provide for a level playing field for PMEs. Additionally, NTUC and SNEF are working with the Institute of Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) to certify and train 12,000 human resource professionals by 2025, so that a greater proportion of HR professionals will be equipped to improve compliance with fair and progressive employment / workplace practices and give PMEs fair employment assurances.

(b) Strengthening Singaporean core by enhancing employment pass application review process and facilitating skills transfer to local PMEs 

The implementation of the COMPASS framework for Employment Pass applications goes beyond an applicant’s educational qualifications and salary, and will safeguard PMEs’ interests even as it allows companies to bring in foreign professionals that complements the local workforce. NTUC and SNEF will continue to consult with MOM on this framework to improve workforce diversity and build a strong Singaporean core.

(c) Developing structured jobs and skills plans for PMEs through Company Training Committees (CTCs)

Earlier this year, MOM announced that it would provide a $70mn grant to NTUC to scale up to 2,500 CTCs by 2025. The objective of the CTCs is to promote upskilling of workers to achieve higher productivity from the workforce in tandem with business transformation. With this grant, employers can uplift PMEs through structured jobs and skills plans to ensure that their skillset remains relevant and in-demand to their evolving business vision, direction and needs.

(d) Strengthening the nexus between tripartite partners and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to prepare workforce for economic transitions and investment pipelines

On 17 October 2022, NTUC and SNEF signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen the NTUC Job Security Council (JSC) and enhance the jobs ecosystem for PMEs and other worker groups and create greater synergy between employers and job seekers. Ultimately, NTUC JSC, with strong support from SNEF wants to drive better wages, work prospects and welfare for PMEs; and better support the more than 3,300 SNEF-member employers in their business and workforce transformation efforts.

26 oct 2022 pmetf media session patrick

PME TF Co-Chair and NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay (pictured above) elaborated: “The nine recommendations arose from PMEs’ feedback to NTUC and SNEF. We have helped amplify our PMEs’ views with a stronger voice and turned these into actionable recommendations that will help our PMEs.

"Our work doesn’t stop here. NTUC will continue to advocate for unemployment support for vulnerable PMEs; build a strong Singaporean core via COMPASS, and the workplace fairness legislation; and certify HR professionals in Singapore with tripartite partners, to strengthen HR practices that level (the) playing field for PMEs.

"Our PMEs matter and NTUC will continue to lobby for initiatives that will benefit our workers in the short and long term.”

26 oct 2022 pmetf media session gg

PME TF Co-Chair and SNEF Executive Director Sim Gim Guan (pictured above) also shared: “The PME Taskforce’s recommendations were carefully deliberated and proposed to prepare PMEs to meet employers’ skills demand and to exhort employers to implement responsible employment practices.

"This includes having structured career conversation with mature PMEs at an early stage, to guide them on what training they need for career development and stay employable. With structured career planning, employers can prepare their older workers for new and adjusted roles and benefit from retaining experienced and skilled workers, whilst mature PMEs can have the clarity to review their career goals and identify skills gaps. This would enable them to stay relevant and achieve productive longevity, to continue working after reaching the statutory retirement age, if they so wish.”

Continuing the efforts to help PMEs

With progress being made under most of the recommendations, both NTUC and SNEF will continue to consult PMEs on the ground, provide recommendations, and work with tripartite partners to ensure that Singaporeans are equipped to have the skills that they will need for the jobs of the future.

For example, at the NTUC #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations dialogue held on 25 October 2022, with over 70 PMEs, NTUC heard similar sentiments and concerns from the PME participants. Amongst the topics discussed, unemployment support, skills training and the need to strengthen the Singaporean core were mentioned by PMEs as being critical in aiding in their overall employment and employability opportunities.

SNEF had also launched the Structured Career Planning (SCP) Guidebook in partnership with MOM in July 2022, and organised various workshops to help employers kickstart meaningful discussions with their PME workers on their career goals and required skills. 

Overall, PME TF Co-Advisor and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng commented: “I am glad that most of NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce’s recommendations, like the COMPASS and TAFEP legislations, are already work in progress. When implemented, these recommendations would give our PMEs a level playing field for jobs and make them more employable.

"I also know that MOM is still reviewing our recommendation to provide unemployment support for PMEs who become involuntarily unemployed. This is one area I hope MOM would lend their strong support because PMEs told us they would very much need interim assistance should they lose their jobs.”

PME TF Co-Advisor and SNEF President Dr Robert Yap also shared his views: “One outcome from the PME Taskforce recommendations, is the recently announced strengthening of the jobs eco-system with SNEF’s close partnership with the NTUC Job Security Council (JSC). However, this is just one of our efforts to support the aspirations of local PMEs and at the same time, help employers in meeting their manpower needs. Besides focusing on upskilling and reskilling, recommendations from the taskforce will help PMEs be more resilient and adaptable, especially in today’s ‘never normal’ business environment.”

Images / Provided

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