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The challenges mature PMEs are facing in Singapore and what's being done about it

The challenges mature PMEs are facing in Singapore and what's being done about it

Singapore's PME Taskforce, comprising NTUC and SNEF, will be pushing for more support in four areas: workplace discrimination, unemployment support and benefits, more hiring opportunities, and skills upgrading.

Singapore’s PME Taskforce—comprising the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)—since October 2020, conducted a series of surveys with over 9,000 professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs) aged between 20 to 60 years old.

Based on its December 2020 findings, PMEs felt they needed most help with job security (61%), employment opportunities (76%), and job-related trainings (55%)—which they felt they are on the losing end in the market due to their age.

NTUC’s Assistant Secretary-General and Co-chair of the PME Taskforce, Patrick Tay said, “Through the various engagements and surveys that we did, we hear and understand that the economic, business and employment disruptions have caused fears and anxieties among our Singaporean PMEs.

“These challenges were further amplified due to COVID-19. This is especially so for mature PMEs, as they faced increased competition for jobs and employment.”

lester ntuc asg patrick tay 26 aug

NTUC’s Assistant Secretary-General and Co-chair of the PME Taskforce, Patrick Tay, at a doorstop interview.

Mature PMEs’ sentiments were amplified in April 2021 findings as the PME Taskforce discovered that, as compared to younger PMEs (20 to 40 years old), a higher percentage of the mature PMEs (40 to 60 years old) attributed their age as a disadvantage to them at workplaces.

Further findings revealed that mature PMEs:

  • Agree there are career opportunities out there for them (67%).
  • Are confident in getting a job with current skills and capabilities (58%).
  • Think they are easily replaceable due to age (63%).
  • Think it is difficult to find a job as companies are not open to older workers (71%).

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Fast forward to July 2021, in another survey, mature PMEs also highlighted to the taskforce that:

  • They felt it was difficult to find another job that matches their skills or interests (85%).
  • They felt the key reason was that companies were not being open to workers who are 40 years and above (67%).
  • They opined it will take more than six months to secure their next job (49%).
  • They experienced workplace discrimination when applying for jobs (24%).
  • They experienced discrimination at work (26%).

As such, the pool of PMEs noted they require help most from the taskforce in compensation and benefits (62%), job security (60%), and progression, training, and development (59%).

In that vein, the taskforce will be pushing for more support in the following four focus areas:

  • Addressing workplace discrimination to ensure local PMEs receive fair opportunities and treatment when seeking employment or at their workplace, regardless of their age.
  • Unemployment support and benefits to support PMEs who are involuntarily unemployed, especially the mature PMEs as they take a longer time to return to the workforce.
  • Ensuring more hiring opportunities for mature PMEs so that there are enough meaningful and quality jobs which they can transition to.
  • Supporting PMEs with skills upgrading to help them progress in their careers.

On the first topic area, i.e. workplace discrimination, ASG Tay shared that the spotlight will be on two key concerns – nationality and age. Under the second point, i.e. unemployment support, he shared that mature PMEs do take a longer time to secure their next employment if they are involuntarily unemployed. As such: "Some form of financial support to help them transition to their next job will come in useful."

ASG Tay set the agenda forward: “NTUC has consistently advocated for a strong Singaporean core and we will continue to champion for our workers’ interests to ensure that there must be fairness and zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind at the workplace."

“It is also crucial to level the playing field for our Singaporean PMEs, including mature PMEs, so they are adequately protected, have access to good jobs, and are equipped with the relevant skills to prepare for the future economy,” he urged.

He added that with these findings, it is pertinent that mature PMEs get better support in the areas of employment and employability – specifically addressing workplace discrimination and providing them with unemployment support and benefits as they tend to take longer to secure employment as compared to their younger peers.

On this topic, NTUC and SNEF will share more information over the next few months.

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Images / Provided by NTUC 

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