Labour movement more than doubles number of partner guilds

SINGAPORE - The Labour Movement has more than doubled the number of professional associations it has partnered with, in an effort to reach out to more workers.

After signing MOUs with four new guilds on Thursday, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has raised the number of partners in its U Associate programme from 12 in January 2015 to 26.

The programme is meant to engage and connect associations across 16 sectors, with a focus on developing career and skills progression plans for their members.

The four new U Associate partners are the Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS) and the Singapore Association of Administrative Professionals (SAAP).

Said NTUC U Associate director Vivek Kumar: "We are concerned for our professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and want them to be future-ready. That is why the Labour Movement is growing our U Associate ecosystem, so that we can collaborate across sectors and create forward-looking skills progression pathways which are designed and delivered by practitioners."

NTUC also launched the U Associate Leaders' Circle, where leaders from the partner associations can engage in a quarterly roundtable dialogue with its Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing on issues affecting their industries.

Speaking after the signings, Mr Chan said the partnerships had snowballed exponentially in the past year because the more partners U Associate acquired, the more widespread and valuable their network became.

"We are a bit like Changi Airport," he said. "We don't just provide services for landing and takeoff, we also provide services to connect different U Associate partners and they can value-add to each other in their development of professionals."

In a blog post Mr Chan released on the Labour Movement website in tandem with the signings, he called NTUC an "unusual" organisation compared with its equivalents in other countries.

He said foreign multinationals were often surprised at NTUC's mission to take care of all workers, not just blue-collar and rank-and-file workers but also PMEs and non-unionised workers in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He painted a picture of a Labour Movement that would groom human resources in SMEs, partner an internet portal to help professionals get placed, or even organise freelancers and Uber drivers.

DMAS chairman Lisa Watson said the new partnership would give her members wider training opportunities.

For instance, she said, it could collaborate with APACS on developing psychometric models, and work with IEEE on the technology to realise them.

She said: "There are a lot of opportunities to find points of collaboration. We can build something bigger together that we wouldn't have been able to do separately."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg