SINGAPORE: A new tripartite workgroup will be set up to look into the concerns of older workers and how to protect their interests as the resident workforce ages.
Announcing this during the Manpower Ministry’s annual workplan seminar, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that about one in three workers in Singapore today is above 50 and they have anxieties about the future, especially as technology disrupts businesses and jobs.
Singapore is also facing a “demographic disruption” of an aging population with a shrinking working-age population, she added.
The workgroup will look into four areas: Ensuring older workers are valued, reviewing the retirement and re-employment age; considering Singapore’s next moves on retirement and re-employment age; and examining Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers and its impact on retirement adequacy.
The workgroup will be chaired by Permanent Secretary for Manpower Aubeck Kam, and comprise National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) chief Ng Chee Meng, Singapore National Employers Federation’s president Robert Yap and Mrs Teo as advisors. Representatives from tripartite partners will also make up the workgroup.
“Should we continue to assume that most people do not work beyond age 64? In fact, brother Chee Meng asked a good question recently. Why should there be an expiry age for people’s desire or willingness to work?” Mrs Teo said at the seminar. “If so many countries will have older populations, how can we turn this into a competitive edge for our economy and society?”
The setting up of a committee to better support older workers was first mooted by Mr Ng during his first speech in Parliament as deputy secretary-general of NTUC in response to the President’s Address. He also proposed expanding the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) by the National Trades Union Congress to extend more help to low-wage workers.
The programme, which is managed by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), will be expanded to support more companies in efforts to raise productivity and to make sure they take care of low-wage workers.
Businesses enrolled in the IGP are given incentives to redesign jobs and make technological upgrades, and have to share these productivity gains with low-wage workers. Mrs Teo said that the programme, launched in 2010, has benefitted more than 2,500 employers and 113,000 workers.
“The Government fully supports this push. The IGP goes beyond wage improvements but also addresses concerns about the skills development and career progression of low-wage workers. MOM will work with NTUC to enhance IGP and look into other possibilities to ensure that low-wage workers are also part of our nation’s progress,” she said.
NEW SKILLSFUTURE FOR BUSINESSES TO BOOST HUMAN CAPITAL CAPABILITIES
A one-year pilot SkillsFuture for Enterprises (SFE) initiative was also announced at the seminar. The initiative aims to help employers build human capital development capabilities.
SFE will guide companies in putting in place human resource systems, structures and processes, and help transform existing practices to provide better training and development for their employees.
It will be implemented through a network of intermediaries such as trade associations and chambers and HR consultancies. They will provide end-to-end assistance to employers and diagnose their current capabilities.
SNEF will be MOM’s first partner for the initiative, and it hopes to engage 1,000 companies across the 23 Industry Transformation Map sectors.
It will expand to a full roll-out of 10,000 companies over the next five years.