MOM must be agile and practical in its responses to help businesses transform and workers adapt: Josephine Teo

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (third from right), Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (third from left) and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling (second from left) at the ministry's 20th anniversary celebrations. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Tapping the senior workforce to help businesses, helping workers adapt and win with technology trends, and promoting progressive workplaces.

These are three areas that will have far-reaching impact on the Republic's future, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Monday (Oct 22).

Addressing employees of the ministry at its 20th anniversary celebrations held near Marina Bay, Mrs Teo said: "The future of work holds many promises - innovative workplaces, more meaningful jobs, better prospects.

"But there are also uncertainties because of disruptions and restructuring."

She said MOM must be agile and practical in its responses to help businesses transform and workers adapt.

"We must also have empathy and understand the aspirations of Singaporeans. Let us bring our heads, hearts and hands to bear so that we can all move forward and not fall behind," she added.

While previous initiatives such as Workfare, Adapt and Grow, and Silver Support have provided better safety and security for workers, Mrs Teo said more must be done.

Workfare supplements the income of lower-wage workers while the Adapt and Grow initiative helps Singaporeans to tap specific programmes to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills for new jobs.

Silver Support tops up the retirement incomes of the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and above.

Going forward, Mrs Teo said MOM must motivate businesses to take full advantage of technology to transform and grow.

"We must also support workers, whether in regular employment or in the "gig" economy, to adapt and win with technology," she added.

To secure a better future, the ministry must continue to develop sound and balanced manpower policies and take into account longer life expectancies, technology's increasing prowess and Singaporeans' higher aspirations.

She added that the ministry must also enable people to better prepare for retirement, adding that it is an area MOM can work on.

Bumps during the "many years" that it will take to secure a better future of work is to be expected. "Even with the best of plans, surprises can happen," said Mrs Teo.

"External shocks and crises will test our resilience from time to time."

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