Amid trying times, do more to help PMEs in the financial sector: Patrick Tay

Office workers during lunch time at Raffles Place.
Office workers during lunch time at Raffles Place.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Amid fear, uncertainty and looming retrenchments in the financial sector, Singapore's professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in the industry must stay ready to adapt, resilient in the face of setbacks, and relevant, by picking up new skills, labour MP Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) told Parliament on Monday (Feb 29).

This is not just up to workers alone, as the unions, employers, Government, regulators and key stakeholders must partner the financial sector's PMEs in their journey, said Mr Tay in an adjournment motion at the end of a seven-hour Parliament sitting.

The financial sector landscape is changing rapidly, with many old jobs gone and new jobs created, so workers must stay proactive and positive in picking up new skills, he said.

Unions must also help workers to keep themselves updated. "Many in this sector are not aware of the latest and upcoming changes to labour legislation, and that PMEs too can be union members and enjoy the protection and entire host of services which NTUC and our affiliated unions can provide," noted Mr Tay.

Employers must pay close attention to training and coaching their workers, provide clear progression paths - and to think twice before laying off experienced local staff, he added.

Mr Tay said that anecdotally, many of those laid off in the banking sector were older PMEs aged above 40, who were local workers in foreign banks. If such experienced staff are first in line to be retrenched, this will not help Singapore develop a core of local talent, he noted.

As for the Government, Mr Tay saw a vital role for it in the area of education.

Pre-employment training courses should be linked with continuing education and training programmes, so that young talent can be ready for the job even before they enter the industry, he said.

"So if finance majors intend to build a career in banking, their internships should be coupled with certification programs while (they are) attached with banks and learn as they earn." This could be not just for polytechnic students, but also university students and those taking certification programmes with financial training institutes, he added.

Responding, Minister Lawrence Wong - who sits on the board of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) - said the MAS would work with the unions, employers and the Government to support financial sector PMEs in their efforts to stay competitive.