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Patrick Tay: The Concerns of Local PMEs Cannot Be Ignored

The NTUC Assistant Secretary-General says that it is important that PMEs are not left behind as the economy transforms.
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NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said that the concerns and aspirations of local PMEs cannot be ignored – particularly those between the ages of 40 to 60.


He said this during his presentation at the Singapore Perspectives 2023 conference by the Institute of Policy Studies on 9 January 2023.


Mr Tay was part of the sixth panel of the conference, titled Addressing Job Vulnerabilities: Ensuring Viable and Decent Work for All.


“I will keep closing on the Government and employers to ensure we have a level playing field for our local PMEs. With our PMEs still supported and valued, they are more likely to be motivated and productive – leading to win-win outcomes for both businesses and the workforce.”


Meanwhile, the NTUC and Singapore National Employers Federation PME Taskforce (NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce) hopes to reach out to more matured PMEs to determine if its findings in its 2021 report are still relevant today.


As it has been over a year since the report was published, he wanted to hear from older PMEs if the fears and anxieties fleshed out in the taskforce recommendations are still relevant and if they are still top of mind.



Since the Submission of the Taskforce Report


Mr Tay shared that since the submission of the taskforce report back in October 2021, several of the recommendations laid out in the report have since been rolled out.


“For example, the formation of the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness is [currently] deliberating on the proposed workplace fairness piece of legislation. You will hear more about it [later] this year,” he said.


He added that the joint taskforce by NTUC and SNEF is the first time the two entities have formally collaborated to deep dive into an issue, without the involvement of the Government.


Why the Focus on Mature PMEs?


Even though Mr Tay said that NTUC recognises that there are many other segments which require additional support such as lower wage workers, he shared that mature PMEs are particularly vulnerable – even before the arrival of the pandemic.


“Prior to COVID-19, if you look at the manpower statistics and labour market reports, these segments are particularly vulnerable, [especially] those in the 40s and 60s.


“They face various challenges issues with finding work or staying in work and staying employable,” he said.


He added that when the pandemic hit, mature PMEs were hit with many other “curveballs”, whether they were in fulltime, parttime or freelance employments.


“We recognise that the mature PMEs, particularly those in their 40s to 60s, continue to face risks in terms of job displacement and challenges in reentering the workforce once they have been laid off,” he said.


Citing the recent layoffs seen in the technology sector, Mr Tay said that mature PMEs need a reassurance and assistance in terms of unemployment support.


“In the next few decades, Singapore will experience a significant demographic shift with our aging population and thus, we must ensure that our mature PMEs are not left behind as our economy transforms.”


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