Give PMETs more targeted help

Over the years, many questions have been raised about professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who have been displaced.

Indeed, I wrote to the Forum page earlier this year ("Help PMETs assess their skill sets"; May 4) to seek some insight and demystification of the situation our PMETs are facing which would allow for a more targeted approach to support them. I received no response to my letter.

Finally, the issue is being discussed publicly ("Govt acting on PMET concerns: Lim Swee Say"; Sept 9).

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say reiterated that the Government is committed to supporting local PMETs by delving into fine-grain areas, such as the nationality of foreign workers brought in, the companies which hire them, and the industries and departments they are employed in.

While it is possible to tell the type of jobs that were taken away, we cannot really know why our PMETs were passed over.

Escalating manpower cost could be a factor, but wages may not be the sole reason, as some foreign workers are not cheaper.

Skill sets and job functions are another two factors.

If a PMET in a particular job is replaced, we could dive into the case, pinpoint challenges and formulate solutions.

There are also industry partners which government agencies can work with to do this.

This would be more effective than doling out subsidies on training courses and adorning our PMETs with an array of paper certificates with no real applicable value.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Give PMETs more targeted help'. Print Edition | Subscribe