PARLIAMENT

Ways to help PMEs in finance sector

Mr Tay offered ideas on how the Government can help to avoid a jobs or skills mismatch in the financial industry.
Mr Tay offered ideas on how the Government can help to avoid a jobs or skills mismatch in the financial industry.

Amid uncertainty and retrenchments in the financial sector, professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in the industry must adapt, be resilient in the face of setbacks and stay relevant by picking up new skills, labour MP Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) said yesterday.

Unions, employers, Government, regulators and key stakeholders must partner workers in this journey, he said in an adjournment motion at the end of a seven-hour Parliament sitting.

Workers must stay pro-active and positive in picking up skills. And unions can keep workers updated, he said.

"Many in this sector are not aware of the latest and upcoming changes to labour legislation, and that PMEs, too, can be union members."

Employers must pay attention to training workers, provide clear progression paths - and think twice before laying off experienced local staff, he said.

Mr Tay said that from anecdotal information, many of those laid off in the banking sector were older PMEs aged above 40, and were local workers in foreign banks.

If such experienced staff are first in line to be retrenched, this will not help Singapore develop a core of local talent, he said.

He suggested how the Government can help to avoid a jobs or skills mismatch in the industry.

Pre-employment training courses should be linked with continuing education and training programmes, so that potential employees can be prepared for jobs before they enter the industry, he said.

"So if finance majors intend to build a career in banking, their internships should be coupled with certification programmes whilst (they are) attached with banks and learn as they earn."

Responding, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) board member, said the picture was not that bleak. While some banks are retrenching, others are expanding and hiring.

Financial institutions are also adopting new technologies and demand is growing for those with skills in areas such as data analytics.

"These are areas which Singaporeans can excel in and secure potentially good jobs in the financial sector," said Mr Wong.

Nevertheless, unions, employers and the Government will work together to support financial sector PMEs, he said, citing a previously-announced Financial Industry Career Advisory Centre, which will begin operations next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Ways to help PMEs in finance sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe