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PMEs Want a Safety Net to Avoid Underemployment

Heah Min An feels unemployment support not only provides an interim safety net but also allows a displaced worker to choose a job wisely.
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Thirty-seven-year-old Heah Min An has been working in his current job as a business process manager for the last 10 years.

Having been at a single company for a decade, at his age, he is beginning to wonder what his chances would be like if he decided to get another job.

He said: “I’m now at a stage where I think about what is next. If I go out to the real [employment] market right now, am I able to continue to provide the value, or is there currently a mismatch between what I think is out there and what is happening?”

Evolving Roles and Disruptions

As a business process manager in an investment company, Min An’s work involves engaging stakeholders on their automation requirements. He also consults stakeholders on how automation can help them.

As a middleman for tech adoption, he knows companies’ hesitance, especially SMEs.

He said: “For SME owners, they are constantly firefighting. But when it comes to disruption and technology, it needs time to see the benefits and the return on investment.”

Min An is also concerned about how quickly job roles evolve for PMEs.

He explained that when he started his job as an operations executive, much of his role involved manual input.

But now, he said that the job landscape has changed.

He said: “Today, they are looking for more intellectual things – for example, data and data insights. My company and clients want to make business decisions based on data.

“Those skills, if I were to place myself back as an operations executive, wouldn’t fit what my company wants.”


#EveryWorkerMatters Conversations

These concerns are just some of the topics Min An discussed during a focus group discussion organised by NTUC on 25 October 2022.

The event was part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations organised for PMEs to hear their feedback on employment challenges.

Another topic widely discussed during the event was unemployment support.

The Labour Movement has recently renewed this call, which was first recommended to the Government a year ago.

Min An said that besides providing a safety net to cope with daily expenses, unemployment support also enables PMEs to secure a job best suited for the worker.

He explained: “If that financial support is available, I’m able to make a conscious decision that this is the role that my skills can fit. As compared to the other situation where if there is no such financial support, my mind will just be thinking, okay, just get any job.”

He is glad he attended the focus group discussion, which validated some of his concerns.

He said: “The conversation is like an outlet to make a conscious decision and say, hey, let’s voice it out. You’ll never know that there are other people with the same experience in that particular conversation.

“If there is such feedback in the working class, it means that issue is valid and needs to be addressed.”

The focus group discussion was part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, a larger-scale series of engagements by the Labour Movement to engage all workers across various life stages.

To participate in the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, visit