SINGAPORE: A new job matching programme by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will reduce the unemployment period for workers by placing them in new jobs before they are retrenched or displaced.
NTUC will be piloting the new programme, called the Job Security Council (JSC), to help improve the "matching of displaced or retrenched workers into new jobs" said NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng on Wednesday (Feb 26).
In his speech to Parliament, Mr Ng said that there was "a growing concern" among professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and workers in their 40s and 50s that their skills might become redundant as technology evolves.
"If they are retrenched, they can take a long time to get back into a job, and one which may not pay as well or may not fully utilise their skills," Mr Ng added.
"Although these numbers are not large, for the individual workers or PME who has mouths to feed and bills to pay, the situation can cause a lot of fear and anxiety."
HOW THE JSC WILL WORK
The JSC, operationalised by NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), will work with companies to gather information about their job vacancies. They will also gather information on jobs that may be phased out or jobs that could be redesigned for workers and PMEs.
Workers and PMEs who are about to be retrenched or displaced will then be matched to these vacancies within the JSC network.
The council will also identify any new skillsets that are required and "top up" the workers' and PMEs' skills when necessary, said Mr Ng.
NTUC's e2i can also partner releasing companies to redesign jobs and reskill and redeploy workers to move them into other jobs. It will also help companies access Government support schemes, such as the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package.
"All these schemes are intended to enhance skilling and placement efforts for local workers and PMEs," Mr Ng said.
"NTUC, or the Job Security Council, can be the conduit to focus workers’ and companies on accessing the grants to help the workers seek new jobs, upgrade their skills."
Companies in the JSC can also partner associations to "share best practices" and to provide feedback on Government schemes, said NTUC in a media release.
The pilot will start with more than 4,000 companies. They include multinational companies (MNCs) such as Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation, and small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) such as Swee Heng Bakery and Ebenezer Group in the engineering sector.
More than 90 per cent of companies with the council are SMEs. Together, the companies cover more than 500,000 workers.
This comes after the Government announced its S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package during Feb 18's Budget session. The package will help workers remain employed and aid companies with cash flow amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat also announced that S$8.3 billion will go towards companies to help them scale up by strengthening business ties and improving their capabilities.
COMPANY TRAINING COMMITTEES
Mr Ng also gave an update on the Company Training Committees (CTCs), which were introduced last year.
"These CTCs enable companies to refresh and deepen workers’ skillsets in line with new technologies and importantly, tap on Government resources such as the new SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit to aid with the needed training," he said.
There are currently 352 CTCs, he added. NTUC plans to form 1,000 CTCs in three years.
He also highlighted the long-term challenges that workers face in Singapore's changing economy.
"In today’s context, job security does not necessarily mean guaranteeing a job for life. Times have changed," Mr Ng added.
"More and more, job security means providing workers with what they need for skills progression and job placement, which ultimately will improve their work prospects, that would bring them more confidence and give themselves, the workers, and their families peace of mind in the new economy."