Unions have been innovating to represent PMETs better, says labour chief

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng urged PMETs to join unions.
Labour chief Ng Chee Meng urged PMETs to join unions.ST PHOTO: GREGORY LOO

SINGAPORE - The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has been nudging white-collar workers to stay updated on the technology front, said labour chief Ng Chee Meng on Monday (June 22) as he urged more professionals to become union leaders.

Mr Ng told a dialogue session with around 200 participants from all walks of life that the NTUC has been innovating to better address the needs of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are over 40 years of age.

This group had been very confident in their 20s and 30s to carve out their own careers, but the world has changed since then, Mr Ng said.

"PMETs are the new working class of Singapore, wouldn't you agree? And, in 10 years, it will be even more so," he added in response to concerns raised by participants about the employability of older workers.

He urged PMETs to join unions, which have been devising ways to represent their needs better.

"We are bringing in more PMETs... We want to actually be in this space to represent the new working class in Singapore," Mr Ng said. "It's a long journey, but we are taking the first steps."

Another aim is to have PMETs who are now in their 30s to think about what they need in their 40s and to pick up the relevant skillsets accordingly.

"Having somebody institutionally alongside to actually nudge you to go into IT, get ourselves updated on the technologies are all very important," Mr Ng added at the event organised by the national feedback and engagement unit Reach.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, the Minister of State for Manpower and National Development, said more needs to be done to help older PMETs - a group that has been growing.


"Our profiles are changing. So we need to also assess and decide how we want to help these groups," he said, urging participants to consider how PMETs can band together to find ways to design employment and training programmes and to work with unions.

Ms Sun Xueling, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development and Home Affairs, emphasised the importance of job seekers maintaining a healthy attitude.

She also urged older workers who are looking to upgrade to deepen their existing skillsets, such as how they can digitalise what they now do.

They can also refer to industry transformation maps for suggestions on the skills that will be useful for their careers.

Ms Sun drew on her experience in hiring workers, saying: "Not only are employers looking at... what skills you have, they are also looking at attitudes, mindsets."


"When (interviewees) exhibit a lot of negativity, you can actually feel it... We are all human, we pick up (on) these things," she added.

"I know it's an extremely stressful and challenging time for everyone. All I'm suggesting is, let's see how each and every one of us can best manage these stressors and try to turn it into positive, constructive energy because it can be helpful in your job search."