MPs Suggest Slew of Measures for Singaporeans to Cope with the Digital Transition and Find Jobs

March 3, 20178:00 am805 views

Members of Parliament (MPs) who had gathered for the first day of debate on the Budget statement suggested a slew of measures at the Parliament to boost the Singaporean economy. This includes setting up of a National Talent Bank soon, easing the process of allowing more women re-enter the workforce via returnship programme and helping seniors make a living in the gig economy.

Voicing out his opinion at the debate forum, Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo said that the National Talent Bank which will be set up, is a platform that will include networking features such as those offered by social-networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn to allow jobseekers to be easily searched and found by head-hunters.

Mr Choo, a National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) director said, this new online platform will help analyse “the deficit between national skills, competencies and what’s required in our economy.” As the Republic expands international, global firms should know where to reach out to Singaporean local talent abroad.

Unlike many job sites which tend to focused on specific industries and largely used by professionals, the Government should also look at working with private-sector firms such as LinkedIn to devise solutions at a national level.

Meanwhile, the labour movement in the region is mooting about a returnship programme to help more women re-enter the workforce. Citing findings from a recent small-scale NTUC U Family online poll, that canvassed opinions from stay-at-home moms, who intend to return back to work – the findings revealed that nearly 6 in 10 of the 564 respondents are willing to join back to work in a year. Most were also keen to start work immediately if a trial option was provided.

As per the returnship programme, employers will offer women a paid-career trial period of between two to four months with the ultimate goal being to place them in permanent jobs with the same firm. Choo suggested that the Public Service Division, Singapore’s largest employer, should take the lead to offer women such career trials.

See: Employees fear for job security due to lack of digital skills in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia

As the gig economy picks up, MP Sun Xueling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) said, the Government should ensure that the citizens are being cared for, regards their retirement adequacy. Regulations will have to come into effect, wherein companies that engage individuals systematically but fail to pay their share of Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions.

The gig economy will not sustain without a proper framework that provide social safety net for freelancers, workplace protection and retirement support.

To help older workers with significant years of experience under their belt, Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC) suggested that there is a room for the Government to help seniors transition, adapt, learn and cope with the digital changes as well. They should be encouraged to take up freelance gigs as well, by creating a gig economy for seniors. This can be done by creating “micro-jobs” for mature workers, starting with social services.

Furthermore, a national digital platform and an app should help facilitate reaching out to more seniors and mature workers, who can help contribute to knowledge sharing and experiences in the new-age economic uncertainties.

SkillsFuture movement should also be tapped to prepare more seniors for the digital future. While there are vast possibilities to explore and cope with the change, to include grandmothers to assist in infant care at their homes or retired educators to offer after-school care for students, Kwek told the Straits Times.

Also read: Singapore Budget 2017: Heng Swee Keat to Help Workers with New Skills Training and E-Learning Courses

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