SINGAPORE — White-collar workers’ training and employability will be among the areas of focus for policymakers in the second half of the Government’s term, with several programmes and initiatives targeted at PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).
And with 40,000 to 45,000 young Singaporeans expected to enter the job market annually over the next three years, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Education are partnering industry players to prepare citizens for a wide range of specialist, managerial and leadership roles in the economy — as part of the Government’s policies and programmes to ensure economic opportunities and social mobility for its people.
An example of such a partnership is Nanyang Polytechnic’s precision engineering master craftsman programme, which saw its first batch of students graduate yesterday.
Responding to the President’s Address last Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) spelt out the key thrusts of the various ministries to keep Singapore as “a nation of opportunity, where every Singaporean can succeed whatever his starting point; where pathways upwards are open to all, at all stages of life”. In a break from tradition — where ministries would individually release their plans — the responses are grouped under themes this time.
Noting the various efforts and investments under way to transform the economy, the PMO reiterated that a strong economy will create more PMET jobs for Singaporeans. Apart from equipping citizens with the relevant skills, the Government will strengthen the Continuing Education and Training system to make it “more responsive and relevant to evolving needs of industries, companies and individuals”. It will also develop career pathways, as well as improve applied learning tracks and specialist programmes.
Among other measures, the MOM will enhance job facilitation efforts for all displaced workers, including PMETs, and make training more accessible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their workers.
By 2030, it is projected that two in three Singaporeans will hold a white-collar job. However, over the past few years, PMETs were more vulnerable to being made redundant. An MOM report last month said that, last year, PMETs took longer to find employment again as they tend to spend more time seeking jobs that match their skills, qualifications and salary expectations.
Human resource experts noted that a mindset shift is needed among PMETs.
Mr Josh Goh, from Manpower Staff Services (Singapore), said PMETs are still not as involved in career planning as they should be, such as strategising the skills they need for career progression. JobsCentral group managing director Huang Shao-Ning added that as competition for PMET jobs intensify, this group of workers need to have skills in different disciplines.
Nee Soon GRC MP Patrick Tay, who is the director of NTUC PME Alignment Unit, suggested setting up more targeted training courses for white-collar workers to stay relevant in their respective industries. More internships and proper career mentoring will also be helpful, he said.
Despite the tight labour market, some undergraduates entering the job market soon said they were concerned about their job prospects. They suggested more internships and courses taught by industry practitioners. There could also be more specialised modules to better prepare students, said National University of Singapore final-year life sciences undergraduate Geraldine Khoo.