Parliament: Local PMETs facing brighter job prospects, says Lim Swee Say

A three-year moving average shows that out of every four extra PMETs employed in the past three years, three were locals. Five years ago, the figure was lower: one local out of every two extra PMETs. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The job front is perking up for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), with a bigger share of them forming the local workforce.

The proportion of locals being added to the pool of PMETs has also grown while the real incomes of workers who are in full-time jobs have risen. Real income takes into account inflation.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say painted this optimistic picture in Parliament on Monday (Nov 6) when he gave an update on the outcome for workers of the Government's efforts to transform the economy to be more innovative, productive and manpower-lean, and help PMET residents - comprising Singaporeans as well as permanent residents - adapt to changes.

Five MPs, including Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) and Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), had raised questions on the topic.

Mr Lim gave figures to underline the positive changes.

This year, PMETs make up 56.1 per cent of the resident workforce, compared with 53.5 per cent in 2014.

This growth rate is higher than that of the previous three years, Mr Lim said.

Residents also make up a bigger proportion of the net employment growth for PMETs.

A three-year moving average shows that out of every four extra PMETs employed in the past three years, three were locals. Five years ago, the figure was lower: one local out of every two extra PMETs.

For residents working full-time, their real median income - which is the mid-point of a range - has risen by 4.3 per cent each year in the past three years.

The income figures include employers' contributions to the Central Provident Fund.

Mr Lim also provided figures on how his ministry's Adapt and Grow programmes are faring.

In the first eight months of this year, these programmes to help workers adapt to rapid technological changes helped more than 16,000 workers land new jobs.

More than half of them (58 per cent) are PMETs, nearly three in 10 are older than 50, and around three in 10 were long-term unemployed who had been jobless for more than six months.

Of the PMET jobseekers who seek help from Workforce Singapore and Employment and Employability Institute, about 65 per cent are placed in jobs.

Mr Lim, in envisioning the future, identified three main areas to work on: raising total employment growth to keep unemployment low, improving the quality of jobs to minimise under-employment, and minimising job-skills mismatches to prevent structural unemployment.

Recent schemes announced along these lines include the SkillsFuture Series to help working adults learn industry-relevant skills in eight areas related to the industry transformation maps.

There is also the Manpower Ministry's Capability Transfer Programme, which will help companies bring in foreign experts to train locals in advanced skills that are not yet prevalent in Singapore.

Some of the new and high-tech jobs workers can consider include artificial intelligence in the infocomm and media sector, data analytics in electronics manufacturing, fintech in banking and finance, and pre-fabrication technology in construction, said Mr Lim.

"Beyond these efforts of the Government and the tripartite partners, we need our local PMETs to be prepared to adapt and grow to stay relevant and seize new opportunities. Likewise, employers must also do their part to be inclusive and adopt fair and progressive hiring practices," he said.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) asked what help was given to the 130 Singapore Press Holdings employees who were retrenched last month (Oct).

Mr Lim said support for workers in any retrenchment exercise is given through a taskforce set up last year. It monitors whether it is done responsibly and looks at what further support can be given to those laid off.

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