Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng affirmed that the Government has heard National Trades Union Congress (“NTUC”) calls for unemployment support for workers and is currently looking at how it can better support displaced workers.
Speaking at Forward Singapore’s Empower Pillar engagement session on 2 November 2022, Dr Tan emphasised that with unemployment support, “the goal is to help as many workers as we can to bounce back into a job, by encouraging them, inspiring them to be persistent and enabling them to be effective in their job search.” Hence, there is a need for such support to have a proper structure.
Proper structure for unemployment support
Dr Tan’s statement echoed NTUC Assistant Secretary-General cum Co-Chair of the Professionals, Managers and Executives Taskforce (PME TF) Mr Patrick Tay’s sentiments regarding unemployment support when speaking at the PME TF media session on 26 October 2022. Mr Tay recognises the need for unemployment support to be supplemented by active labour market policy and mechanisms so that workers continue to be incentivised to search for and land a job while receiving benefits, lest it becomes a welfare situation. He sought that with interim support, PMEs could get some breathing space to retrain, upgrade their skills and look for suitable employment.
Providing an update on the progress of dialogues under the Empower pillar since the exercise’s launch in June by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Dr Tan said participants were largely concerned about educational, training and job opportunities, as well as assurance over retirement adequacy and unemployment support.
Unemployment support remains a key concern among PMEs
Unemployment support remains a key concern highlighted by PMEs in a series of engagements by the PME Taskforce and in the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations (EWMC) which engaged over 10,000 PMEs. Many PMEs, particularly those who are mature, face difficulties in landing a new job due to age or a lack of relevant skillsets. Another issue is their increasing propensity to suffer from wage loss upon re-entry into employment.
Training and upskilling are pivotal
At a recent NTUC #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations (EWMC) dialogue session held on 25 October 2022, one of the over 70 PME attendees shared his story. Mr Gazali Ahmad, age 53, was a Grab driver turned Full-Stack developer. Feeling unsatisfied behind the wheel, he enrolled himself in a training programme to be a software engineer. Despite his concerns about how his age could impact his employability, he persevered and completed the training. He now works at a global technology firm earning three times what he did while driving.
NTUC will continue to champion workers' interest
NTUC Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng who was also at the Foward Singapore engagement session was pleased to hear from Dr Tan that the Government will be looking into providing unemployment support for workers. He reaffirms NTUC’s resolve in championing the interest of our workers, especially those who are worried about unemployment in the form of protection, assurance, and opportunities.
Mr Ng urges more workers, especially PMEs, to join the Labour Movement to further strengthen the social compact. Granted that it takes time, effort, and teamwork to see results, Mr Ng said “For a social compact or workers compact, it cannot be a day of reckoning of discussion, or even six months to one year of discussion, where the Government, NTUC and employers engage each other and talk. It must be a consistent effort.