Public officers to get help to future-proof their jobs

With retirement and rehiring ages set to rise, panel is set up to transform public workforce

Singapore's 145,000 public officers will receive help in preparing for jobs of the future, with the setting up of a committee to help the public service transform its workforce.

An agreement was signed yesterday between the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (Aupe), the Public Service Division (PSD) and the Civil Service College (CSC) to form the Public Service Cluster Training Committee.

The goal is to get public officers ready for future jobs so that they can have longer careers.

The move comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the National Day Rally earlier this month that retirement and re-employment ages will go up.

The public sector has said it will take the lead by raising the retirement age initially to 63 from 62, and offering re-employment to eligible officers until they turn 68, from July 1, 2021, one year ahead of the national schedule. The re-employment age is currently 67.

Speaking at Aupe's 60th anniversary celebration last night, President Halimah Yacob cheered the agreement to form the committee, which will be co-chaired by Ms Teoh Zsin Woon, the PSD's deputy secretary in charge of transformation, Mr Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari, general secretary of Aupe, and Ms Ong Toon Hui, dean and chief executive of the CSC.

President Halimah said public officers must be willing to learn new skills and work out new approaches to deal with the challenges arising from geopolitical uncertainty and technological advancement, as well as from a more discerning public and an ageing population.

She added: "The challenges facing the public service and public sector employees are vastly different today compared with before and the public service has to be nimble, adaptable and responsive in responding to them."

Among the committee's tasks are to anticipate future jobs, identify those that need to be redesigned or automated, and develop training programmes to help plug the skills gaps. It will also look at strategies to help officers learn new skills, such as digital know-how, design thinking and systems thinking, said a joint statement from Aupe, PSD and CSC.

President Halimah, citing the raising of the retirement and re-employment ages, said she was glad the close tripartite relationship between the Government, employers and unions has enabled Singapore to reach consensus on many employment matters.

"In many countries, employment matters are a constant source of conflict, leading to instability and affecting everyone. This is something that we need to recognise and appreciate and should not take for granted just because we have enjoyed many years of industrial peace," said the President, who was a career trade unionist.

"At the heart of the conflict between labour, management and the government in most countries is the lack of trust and consensus in the state's stewardship of resources and in the fairness of its distribution.

"We are fortunate to have avoided such conflicts and disruptions because of the strong trust, respect and understanding that exists among the parties."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2019, with the headline 'Public officers to get help to future-proof their jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe