More white-collar workers seeking job-hunting help

March 18, 201612:44 pm358 views
More white-collar workers seeking job-hunting help
TODAY file photo

Amid choppy economic conditions, more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) are seeking help with job placements.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said yesterday that its centre catering to white-collar workers saw the number of such cases reach 518 between March last year and February this year.

In contrast, there were 253 cases between April 2014 — when the centre opened — to February last year.

The centre, called the U PME Centre, has an online portal and two physical spaces, one at the Employment and Employability Institute in Jurong East and another at the NTUC Centre at One Marina Boulevard. The centre provides help for PMEs on a range of employment issues, including employability and protection of workers’ rights.

Almost six in 10 cases which the centre handled in the past year involved PMEs seeking help with job placements.

The latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) labour market report released on Tuesday showed that workers aged 40 and above made up a sizeable proportion (64.5 per cent) of lay-offs here last year.

Speaking at a press briefing, NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said he was concerned about the vulnerability of these workers.

“When they lose their jobs, it’s much harder than anybody else to … seek employment,” said Mr Tay, who is also director of NTUC’s PME unit.

To help PMEs, the labour movement is pressing for tougher action against companies with a weak Singaporean core, as part of its wish-list for Budget 2016 that will be unveiled by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on March 24.

Among other things, the NTUC is proposing restrictions on companies’ hiring rights for foreign PMEs — in the form of a company-specific PME dependency ratio — as a last resort.

It is also pushing for improvements to the Career Support Programme (CSP), which provides wage support to employers who hire PMEs aged 40 and above for jobs paying at least S$4,000. The PMEs must have been unemployed for at least half a year.

The NTUC said the CSP, launched last October, should be extended to cover all PMEs, regardless of the length of time they have been unemployed. It also calls for subsidies that are given to employers to be increased to make the programme more attractive.

The latest labour-market statistics showed that 15,580 workers were retrenched here last year, the highest recorded since the global financial meltdown seven years ago.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians were the hardest hit, forming 71 per cent of lay-offs last year, up from 66 per cent in 2014.

To increase their employability, Mr Tay said PMEs must equip themselves for the future in three areas: Staying ready, resilient and relevant.

To stay ready, PMEs must take proactive steps, such as hopping onto the National Jobs Bank, which he said offers a rich repository of jobs, and visit the U PME Centre to find out where the job opportunities are.

They must also stay resilient as jobs become obsolete due to rapid technological advances, and be better prepared for “any eventuality” amid the global trend towards lay-offs.

Mr Tay called on PMEs to remain relevant by upgrading themselves continuously.

“It’s like running on a treadmill, you cannot stop,” he added.

Since its inception, the U PME Centre has helped 1,420 PMEs in areas ranging from workplace advisory to career and professional development. It handled 887 cases in the past year, compared with 587 the year before.

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