The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) today announced the formation of a PME Taskforce. 

According to a joint media release, the taskforce will better protect and enable professionals, managers and executives (PME) who are more vulnerable due to economic transformation and technological disruption – especially mature PMEs aged 40 to 60.

It will engage PMEs, employers and various stakeholders; identify areas of support and look at ways to strengthen PMEs’ employment and employability; and ensure that PMEs have access to a level playing field for jobs, while balancing companies’ manpower needs, in the immediate and longer-term.

Protecting PMEs, preserving jobs, providing upskilling and reskilling

To ensure that support is targeted and meaningful, the PME Taskforce will focus on the protection and enablement of PMEs in three key areas:

  1. Protect – Enhance employability of PMEs and reduce the risk of retrenchment
  2. Preserve – Encouraging employers to retain and build capabilities for workforce and business transformations, as well as economic recovery
  3. Provide – Enabling PMEs through upskilling and reskilling to enhance their employability.

Over the next six months, the taskforce will engage and involve PMEs and employers across varied segments through a series of polls, focus group discussions and events.

This will enable it to identify key concerns and needs of different groups of PMEs; gather feedback from employers on potential skill gaps in the workforce; and work with relevant government agencies to review policies impacting PMEs.

Research will also be conducted to gain insights on future trends, jobs and skills, with the aim of giving PMEs a leg up in taking on future opportunities.

From these engagements and feedback, the taskforce will provide recommendations on government policies, best HR practices for companies and the enabling of PME training, by May Day 2021.

Union and industry representatives from various sectors to provide diverse views

Co-led by NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay and SNEF Executive Director Sim Gim Guan, the PME Taskforce comprises union and industry representatives from various sectors who will be able to provide diverse views, lend their expertise and draw valuable insights on PME-related issues. 

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng and SNEF President Dr Robert Yap will take on the role of advisors for the taskforce. While members include HR leaders from DBS Bank, Maybank, Shell Eastern Petroleum, and more.  

NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Tay said: “Local PMEs have been greatly impacted by the recession, and the situation is likely to worsen as the Singapore economy continues to experience the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, we need to ensure our PMEs are adequately protected, have access to good jobs and are equipped with relevant skills, so they can thrive in this new normal.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Singapore into an economic slump, putting jobs at risk and causing retrenchments to rise. Against this backdrop, PMEs, especially those in their 40s to 60s, have been significantly impacted. According to the Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Report, PMETs made up half of local retrenchment figures in Q2 2020. As compared to the previous quarter, PMETs also saw a slower rate of re-entry into employment after retrenchment.

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The idea of setting up a joint NTUC and SNEF PME Taskforce was first mooted by NTUC Secretary-General Ng in August this year. The move was also supported by SNEF President Dr Yap, who welcomed the idea of forming a PME Taskforce to address employers’ immediate concerns of business survival and need to retain and build manpower and skills capabilities for economic recovery, growth and competitiveness.

These updates for the PME Taskforce were provided by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng during his keynote speech at the Labour Research Conference 2020 today, themed “Workers’ Matters: Finding ways to brave the roads ahead”. The half-day conference explored key topics such as challenges workers face as companies embark on digitalisation; how collective effort is required to train and prepare the workforce for digital disruption; and more.

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