Labour movement to boost its services with data analytics

New NTUC unit will study members' data to develop better products

The labour movement has started a unit to gain insights into members' data so that it can better determine, for example, the best locations for setting up childcare, eldercare or training centres.

NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, in announcing it yesterday, said the social enterprises of the National Trades Union Congress are "coming together to provide an integrated suite of services to workers and their families, enabled by data".

An example he cited is the upcoming Kampung Admiralty project, which will include a FairPrice outlet, an NTUC Eldercare centre, an NTUC-run childcare centre and an NTUC Foodfare outlet.

Named the Data and Analytics Centre of Excellence, the unit's overall aim is to study how to use data to develop better products and services, Mr Chan told reporters at a briefing on his joint May Day message with NTUC president Mary Liew.

He also said NTUC will team up with other organisations to offer more products and services.

For example, he noted, FairPrice joined hands with ride-hailing firm Grab last month to launch the Score subscription programme, which offers rebates on supermarket purchases and discounts on Grab rides.

He pledged that there will be more such partnerships.

As for NTUC's May Day message to celebrate the achievements of workers, it will note, among other things, the establishment of a training council to further drive its efforts to promote skills upgrading in the workforce.

The council collaborates with institutes of higher learning, professional associations and companies to curate and deliver certification courses and sector-specific training, Mr Chan said.

It meets every quarter and comprises NTUC central committee members, representatives from NTUC's training arms and corporate leaders who are "passionate about training", he added.

"At NTUC, we have a unit where we do a horizon scan of new sectors that are emerging and the skills required. At the training council, we ask: 'Are there training programmes available?'

"The union leaders are then responsible for ensuring workers understand the need to go for training and what kind of training," he said.

Corporate leaders, meanwhile, can use the council to discuss with NTUC and union leaders how best to create and offer training programmes that are more specific to the needs of their business strategies.

Citing DBS Bank, he said it meets union leaders regularly to discuss the kind of skill sets that workers would require as the bank transforms itself for the digital age.

Having the council meet every quarter, he said, helps to "focus the minds of the entire NTUC labour movement on training, from the highest decision-making body in NTUC, the central committee, all the way to the branches".

NTUC has been promoting the need for skills upgrading for many years, but in the past year it has greatly expanded the scale and scope of its efforts, he noted. It will continue to do so this year.

"We are not satisfied with just helping today's unemployed get into today's jobs. We set ourselves a high goal of helping tomorrow's unemployed get into tomorrow's jobs," he said.

Doing it ahead of time requires NTUC to work with the Government and private sector to identify the industries, he said. Also, it has to work closely with training agencies and companies to ensure workers gain better skills early.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Labour movement to boost its services with data analytics'. Print Edition | Subscribe