The labour movement has more than doubled the number of professional associations it has set up partnerships with, in an effort to help more workers outside the union fold.
A year ago, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) had 12 partners in its U Associate programme, and yesterday it increased this number to 26 by signing memorandums of understanding with four guilds - engineers, psychotherapists, direct marketers and administrative professionals.
The programme aims to connect associations across 16 sectors, with a focus on developing career and skills progression plans for their members.
NTUC U Associate director Vivek Kumar said: "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."
NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing said at the signings: "The more U Associate partners we have, the more we are able to expand opportunities for PMEs to share ideas and cross-pollinate. In time, they will compete not as individuals, but together under brand Singapore."
GETTING THEM FUTURE-READY
We are concerned for our professionals, managers and executives and want them to be future-ready. That is why the labour movement is growing our U Associate ecosystem.
NTUC U ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR VIVEK KUMAR
The NTUC also launched the U Associate Leaders' Circle, which will see the heads of the partner associations hold quarterly roundtable dialogues with Mr Chan.
In a blog post released in tandem with the signings, Mr Chan called the NTUC an "unusual" labour movement.
He wrote that foreign multinationals were often surprised at the 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-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He painted a picture of a labour movement that will groom human resources in SMEs, work with an Internet portal company to help professionals get placements, and even organise freelancers and Uber drivers.
Ms Lisa Watson, chairman of new U Associate partner Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS), said the new partnership would give her members wider training opportunities.
For instance, DMAS could collaborate with fellow U Associate partner the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore on developing psychometric models for profiling in marketing, and work with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers on the technology to interpret the results.
"There are a lot of opportunities to find points of collaboration," she said. "We can build something bigger together that we wouldn't have been able to do separately."