Job-clustering pilot to begin next year, could provide better progression and wages for workers

The pilot trials will be conducted with small groups of workers from next year leading up to the establishment of a training centre.
The pilot trials will be conducted with small groups of workers from next year leading up to the establishment of a training centre.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A project exploring the feasibility of clustering cleaning, gardening and security jobs will be piloted early next year.

Businesses see the potential to create better jobs by aggregating such roles to increase employees' productivity, and this could provide workers with better career progression and an increase in wages.

Several businesses, including real estate developer CapitaLand, security services firm Certis Group and urban greenery company Greenology, are involved in the project.

The pilot trials will be conducted with small groups of workers from next year, leading up to the establishment of a training centre.

This lighthouse project is seen as a way to provide low-wage workers with better job opportunities and progression and was outlined in a report released by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on Friday (Nov 22).

The apex business chamber's sustainable employment report, put together in consultation with more than 300 business leaders, trade associations and chambers among other stakeholders over eight months, was unveiled at a conference held at Village Hotel Sentosa.

The report is intended as a "by business, for business" initiative to spur Singapore businesses to take up more sustainable employment practices, said SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng.

It has put forth six recommendations, which are targeted at three groups of employees: low-wage workers, older workers aged 55 and above, and professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in sectors vulnerable to job disruption.

Among the recommendations is the development of platforms to match high-skilled professionals to gig work - short-term, part-time or freelance engagements - providing support such as accreditation and legal protection for these workers.

(From left) Committee members who contributed to the report, Ms Melissa Kwee, co-chairman of the mature workers sub-committee; Mr Jason Ho, co-chairman of the PMET sub-committee; Ms Goh Swee Chen, committee chairman; Mr Veera Sekaran, co-chairman of the low-wage workers sub-committee; and moderator, Dr Gillian Koh, speaking at the Singapore Business Federation's Sustainable Employment Conference on Nov 22, 2019. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION

  • Recommendations in the sustainable employment report

  • 1. Businesses to take greater ownership in upskilling PMET workforce

    2. Develop platforms to match high-skilled professionals to gig or contract work

    3. Stamp out age discrimination through policies, processes and programmes that help mature employees contribute and thrive in workplaces

    4. Redesign jobs to match the profiles, needs and strengths of mature employees

    5. Select socially responsible vendors in outsourcing arrangements by shifting from pure cost considerations towards outcome- and value-based sourcing

    6. Transform jobs by changing work processes through innovation to enlarge job scopes, raise wages and provide better career progression

This model would provide freelancers with flexible job opportunities and companies with access to a trusted group of professionals that fit their needs, the report noted.

Mr Teo said that technology developments, an ageing population and increasingly complex geopolitics have led to widening inequality in many parts of the world today, and this means that we need to rethink the role of businesses in our society.

“While the bottom line remains a priority, businesses should also consider the impact they have on their stakeholders within the business ecosystem,” Mr Teo said, noting that businesses have an important part to play alongside government policies and initiatives.

“Sustainable employment will enable Singaporeans to be meaningfully and purposefully employed,” he said, adding that this would bring about long-term benefits for businesses as well.

SBF will set up a programme office to oversee the progress of the recommendations made in its report by early 2020, and will explore collaborations with the likes of government agencies and academic institutions.


So far, 61 organisations including Microsoft and Singapore Airlines have pledged to make at least one improvement to their sustainable employment practices every year.

President Halimah Yacob, who was the guest of honour on Friday, held a dialogue with SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit on the report.

Friday’s conference was also attended by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee as well as more than 200 business leaders and other stakeholders.