Govt to consider PME task force's recommendations

Proposals aim to ensure workplace fairness and support for local workers

Proposals from the labour movement and employers' federation to ensure workplace fairness and support for local workers will be considered by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

MOM noted yesterday: "The recommendations will be taken into consideration in the ongoing review of manpower policies, the workplace fairness framework and employment support initiatives."

The remarks were in response to nine proposals put up by a PME task force led by the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation to pinpoint better ways to assist professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said in a Facebook post: "These recommendations are timely, as the Government has rolled out several initiatives in recent months to support local workers, including our PMEs."

One of the key thrusts of the recommendations is to enhance workplace fairness through improving human resource standards, relooking the review process for employment pass applications and differentiating foreign worker access by occupation.

MOM noted yesterday that a tripartite committee formed in July to review the framework for workplace fairness "will study the recommendations... as it designs a legal framework that is balanced, and in the best interests of Singapore and Singaporeans".

It added that it regularly reviews work pass policies to ensure that foreign professionals complement the local PME workforce and help businesses create good jobs for Singaporeans.

The PME task force also made proposals to help PMEs in career progression and skills upgrading.

MOM noted: "Helping locals access opportunities has been the Government's priority, especially given the impact of Covid-19."

It added that the National Jobs Council has boosted opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

The Government also recently extended the Jobs Growth Incentive, which supports firms to expand hiring of local job seekers.

Dr Tan said: "We will continue to work with our tripartite partners to ensure that workers have the skills, and be in the best position to meet changing business needs."

Experts agreed that the task force proposals will help PMEs facing challenging times with the pandemic, coupled with the rapid pace of technological change.

Adecco Singapore country manager Betul Genc said: "Age discrimination, for one, is a common challenge more and more PMEs are increasingly facing.

"Stiff competition has been coming from the younger generations, who are increasingly rising (up the corporate ladder) and landing positions in junior management roles."

AYP Group managing director Jolin Nguyen said: "On top of training and relief provision, the Government could also offer initiatives such as job matching. This would benefit the unemployed PMEs as well as many companies that are still struggling to find the right talent."

Firms also recognise that training workers is a win-win solution.

Ms Susan Cheong, DBS Bank's talent acquisition group head, said the bank is upskilling 4,300 employees here in areas like data and analytics and machine learning.

PMEs themselves pointed to skills training as a vital aspect of the recommendations.

Procurement manager Daniel Tong, 45, said structured job and skill plans can help him understand the capabilities for a role and what a company needs from him.

Mr Philip Kwa, 59, who runs a training services business, said: "Training support and mentorship programmes will be very helpful to PMEs like myself. We need to keep ourselves relevant."

The short-term support for firms hiring mature workers is also helpful in encouraging employers to consider older workers, he said, alluding to his own challenges in finding a job after being retrenched during the pandemic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2021, with the headline 'Govt to consider PME task force's recommendations'. Subscribe