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New task force to help vulnerable professionals, managers and executives amid COVID-19

New task force to help vulnerable professionals, managers and executives amid COVID-19

People walk out of their office building as they head for their lunch break in Singapore on Sep 30, 2020. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A new task force has been set up to help vulnerable professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), particularly those who are aged 40 to 60.

This was announced by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF) on Tuesday (Oct 27), and comes two months after the idea was first brought up by NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng in August.

Mr Ng outlined the key focus areas of the task force during his keynote speech at the Labour Research Conference on Tuesday.

These include enhancing the employability of PMEs and reducing the risk of retrenchment; encouraging employers to retain and build capabilities for workforce and business transformations, as well as economic recovery; and enabling PMEs through upskilling and reskilling.

Jointly led by NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay and SNEF executive director Sim Gim Guan, the task force comprises union and industry representatives from the industrial, service and public sectors.

“I know PMEs, especially in the 40 to 60 age group, have been significantly impacted by the weakened economy. The PME Taskforce will work to help these PMEs," said Mr Ng.

"Ultimately, we want to strengthen our PMEs’ employability and build a skilled workforce with a strong Singaporean core," he added.

READ: Union leader urges tougher measures to tackle hiring bias, including EP quotas and ending tax breaks


The task force aims to help PMEs who are “more vulnerable due to economic transformation and digital disruption”, said SNEF and NTUC in a joint media release.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Singapore into an economic slump, putting jobs at risk and causing retrenchments to rise.

PMETs made up 50.8 per cent of local retrenchment figures in the second quarter of this year, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) labour market report. Their rate of re-entry into employment after being retrenched also slowed to 55.5 per cent in the second quarter, compared with 61.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

“Local PMEs have been greatly impacted by the recession, and the situation is likely to worsen as the Singapore economy continues to experience the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Tay.

“Against this backdrop, we need to ensure our PMEs are adequately protected, have access to good jobs and are equipped with relevant skills, so they can thrive in this new normal,” he added.

READ: NTUC ‘realistic’ about tougher times ahead, will continue preserving and creating jobs: Ng Chee Meng 



Over the next six months, the task force will engage and involve PMEs and employers across varied segments through a series of polls, focus group discussions and events, NTUC and SNEF said.

This will enable the task force to identify PMEs key concerns and the needs of different groups, gather feedback from employers on the potential skill gaps in the workforce, as well as work with government agencies to review policies that affect PMEs.

Research will also be conducted to gain insights on future trends, with the aim of giving PMEs a leg up in taking on future opportunities, the release said,

READ: 2,800 job seekers placed in traineeship and company attachments under SGUnited Jobs and Skills programmes

The task force will then provide recommendations on government policies, best human resources practices for companies and PME training by May Day next year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore many challenges for our employers and workers," said SNEF executive director Sim Gim Guan. 

"I strongly believe that for businesses to thrive, our people must thrive too. Therefore, it is timely that we come together to look at how we can better support our PMEs, especially our mature PMEs, to meet the manpower demand of employers and help drive their business sustainability and growth agenda.”

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Source: CNA/ga


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