Budget debate: Job security about staying employable, with new skills for future jobs, says DPM Heng

The Government will continue to support job seekers in their career growth through the extension and re-calibration of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Job security is about staying employable and not just staying employed in the same job, noted Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (Feb 26).

He added that the Government will continue to strengthen the ecosystem so people can continuously gain new skills and be prepared for future jobs.

"To help workers capture these opportunities and enjoy the fruits of growth, we have moved into helping workers get into growth areas, and equipping them with skills to secure sustainable livelihoods," he said in response to labour MP Patrick Tay (Pioneer) who had highlighted employability and job security as the top concerns of workers.

"Our immediate priority is to build upon the skills and experience that workers have accumulated, while breaking down barriers so that they can access new jobs," added Mr Heng.

For example, the Government will continue to support job seekers in their career growth through the extension and re-calibration of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

It is also partnering market leaders to conduct quality training at scale. For example, SkillsFuture Singapore is working with Google, Boston Consulting Group, and Siemens to offer SGUnited MidCareer Pathways programmes in infocomm technology, professional services, and advanced manufacturing.

Such company partners have collectively committed more than 6,000 training places and enrolled more than 2,500 trainees.

Mr Heng observed that Singaporeans have taken ownership of learning and skills acquisition, with more than 188,000 locals using their SkillsFuture Credit last year, a 21 per cent increase from 2019.

Firms are also doing their bit in enabling workers to build skills, he said. Last year, 3,400 enterprises sent staff for training in courses supported under the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit, and about 250 enterprises also benefited from partnerships with SkillsFuture anchor companies to enhance their staff's skills development.

Mr Heng also responded to a comment by labour MP Koh Poh Koon (Tampines GRC) that upskilling and job redesign must come together for pervasive transformation.

"We will continue to provide strong support to companies on this front. This includes operation and technology roadmapping that integrates upskilling to achieve a long-term growth strategy," he said.

At the same time, the unions and trade associations and chambers can reach out to more firms and promote deeper collaboration between firms and workers, Mr Heng pointed out.

For instance, the Singapore Business Federation partnered Workforce Singapore to lead an initiative that helps companies adopt Industry 4.0 through job redesign.

To date, close to 70 companies have participated to potentially uplift more than 1,000 jobs and generate more than $52.5 million in cost savings. The business federation aims to scale this to help up to 300 companies and 1,500 workers by September next year.

Meanwhile, the Jobs Security Council also helped to place more than 28,000 workers in new positions last year.

Mr Heng said: "By pre-emptively matching at-risk workers to new employers, the Job Security Council helps workers minimise employment downtime, and aids businesses to manage fluctuating manpower needs."

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