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PME Taskforce Makes Good Strides; NTUC Continues to Call for Unemployment Support for PMEs

The Government has accepted eight of the nine recommendations made by the taskforce a year ago.
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NTUC has doubled down its calls to the Government to strengthen unemployment support for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).

The call was reiterated at an NTUC-Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) PME Taskforce update on 26 October 2022. The Government has accepted eight of the nine recommendations made by the taskforce a year ago.

The one recommendation that has yet to be accepted by the Government is to provide income support for PMEs who are involuntarily unemployed.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng acknowledges that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is still reviewing this call to support PMEs who become involuntarily unemployed.

“This is one area I hope MOM would lend their strong support because PMEs told us they would very much need interim assistance should they lose their jobs,” he said.

PME Taskforce Co-Chair and NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay shared the sentiment.

He said: “Our work doesn’t stop here. NTUC will continue to advocate for unemployment support for vulnerable PMEs ... We are going to continue to lobby for this. You will hear us continue to lobby for this.”

NTUC has been gathering feedback from PMEs through initiatives such as the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations.

#EveryWorkerMatters Conversations with PMEs on 25 October 2022.

The last was a focus group discussion on 25 October 2022 with more than 70 PMEs to hear their feedback on employment challenges.

PMEs shared during the discussion that they need more support when it comes to unemployment, skills training and workplace protection.

Important Considerations for Unemployment Support

Mr Tay believes that the Government has not addressed the taskforce’s recommendations for income support for unemployment PMEs as it has to consider the support’s affordability and sustainability, and to build a system that works.

He also said that for PMEs to get unemployment support, there needs to be an “active labour market policy” in place such as actively looking for employment, getting new skills or getting career counselling.

Outcomes from the PME Taskforce

From the eight recommendations that were accepted by the Government, one of the outcomes includes improving human resource (HR) standards through the training of HR professionals.

The tripartite partners have been working with the Institute of Human Resource Professionals to certify one-third, or about 12,000, of all HR professionals in Singapore by 2025.

Another outcome was the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) that will come into effect in September 2023.

EP applicants will have to pass the points-based framework on top of meeting a qualifying salary benchmark.

To help develop structured jobs and skills of workers, the Government announced a $70 million Company Training Committees (CTCs) grant for NTUC to scale up to 2,500 CTCs by 2025.

Meanwhile, NTUC and SNEF also signed an agreement to strengthen the NTUC Job Security Council and enhance the jobs ecosystem for PMEs and other work groups.

Various Engagements

The taskforce was formed in 2020 during the pandemic as PMEs, particularly those aged 40 to 60 years old, face many disruptions and difficulties, added Mr Tay.

The taskforce has since engaged more than 10,000 PMEs, union leaders and business leaders.

NTUC said it will continue its engagement with PMEs.

In July 2022, SNEF launched the Structured Career Planning Guidebook in partnership with MOM to help employers kickstart discussions with their PME workers on their career goals and required skills.

SNEF President Dr Robert Yap believes that besides upskilling and reskilling, “recommendations from the taskforce will help PMEs be more resilient and adaptable, especially in today’s ‘never normal’ business environment.”

He added: “These recommendations will not only help prepare local PMEs for future challenges, but also help employers grow and internationalise their businesses.”