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More PMEs looking for help in employment: NTUC

The NTUC U PME Centre saw a jump of 265 cases of professionals, managers and executives looking for assistance to 518 cases from March 2015 to February this year.  

SINGAPORE: Professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) were the most vulnerable to retrenchment in 2015, and the NTUC U PME Centre saw a jump in the number of such workers looking for help in employment issues.

According to the Labour Movement on Thursday (Mar 17), the NTUC U PME Centre saw a jump of 265 cases of PMEs looking for assistance in employment and employability - from 253 cases in 2014 to 518 from March 2015 to February 2016.

Seventy-seven per cent of PMEs looking for employment were aged 40 and above. 

Another 258 cases were categorised under "Protection", which covers advice on labour laws, termination of employment and salary issues. This was up from 212 cases in the previous period.

The PMEs most vulnerable to retrenchments are in the oil and gas, finance and electrical manufacturing industries, NTUC said.

It added that while professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) make up more than half of Singaporean workers, this group accounted for a disproportionate 71.1 per cent of retrenchments last year. 

NTUC TO PUSH FOR MORE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay, who is also director of the Labour Movement's PME Unit, said the current economic slowdown has hit PMEs hard, as they tend to work in the worst-performing sectors.

He said: "We do see certain sectors being more affected in terms of job losses, in terms of retrenchments. So we hope more help and support be given in particular to PMEs ... they are in fact a more vulnerable group.

"I foresee the situation again this year. In fact, in the first two months, you've seen some of the foreign financial institutions laying off people, so increasingly you will see more PMEs being laid off. So I hope to see more enhancements of support and programmes to support PMEs.

"We do see PMEs being affected more this round. In particular for two reasons. Firstly, because of the larger proportion of PMEs in the workforce and in companies. And if you look at the layoffs that have been happening (during the) last quarter last year, as well as the early part of this year, and we foresee also for the rest of the year, some of these positions or job groups or occupations where PMEs are being laid off, they are actually PME kinds of jobs." 

STRONGER SINGAPOREAN CORE

The Labour Movement plans to push for more Government support for PMEs and a stronger Singaporean core during next week's Budget.

NTUC said that companies which continuously fail to match industry average ratios of Singaporean employees to foreigners, and show weak commitment in hiring and grooming Singaporeans should be more stringently scrutinised, and even have their Employment Pass applications suspended if they continue to disregard such commitments.

"The Ministry of Manpower highlighted that quite a number of companies are on the watchlist," said Mr Tay. "For those companies that are on the watchlist, more stringent conditions can be imposed when they apply for employment passes."

Another measure NTUC suggested was to impose individual PME Dependency Ratios for companies that remain recalcitrant.

The Labour Movement also wants to improve support for laid-off employees by widening the Career Support Programme (CSP) to benefit all PMEs who were retrenched, regardless of age, and to raise subsidies to make the programme more attractive to employers.

The CSP, which was rolled out in October last year, provides subsidies to employers who hire PMEs over 40 years old for jobs paying S$4,000 and above.