S’pore’s financial sector needs more resilient workforce: Patrick Tay

March 1, 20169:14 am617 views

Responding to concerns of volatility and employment woes in the banking sector, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) board member Lawrence Wong on Monday (Feb 29) assured the House that the Government is working on near- and medium-term plans to help Singaporeans retain relevant skills and tap on evolving areas in the sector, such as digital banking and cybersecurity, among others.

While he acknowledged that financial sectors all over the world are seeing consolidation, Mr Wong, who is also National Development Minister, said the growing middle-class in Asian cities looks set to boost demand for financial services. The increasing adoption of financial technology would also raise demand for people with competencies in these areas, he said.

“Looking ahead, we expect to see continued job creation in the financial sector… Singapore stands to benefit from these longer-term trends,” he said in response to an adjournment motion delivered by Mr Patrick Tay, Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, who co-chairs the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee launched two weeks ago.

Helping to identify training courses for workers in the financial sector and new cross-functional competencies are among the committee’s tasks. It will also launch a one-stop career centre next month at the U-PME Centre along One Marina Boulevard.

In his speech, Mr Tay said financial sectors worldwide are hitting rough patches exacerbated by the plunge in crude oil prices and currency fluctuations. Closer to home, national retrenchment figures have crept up last year from 2014.

In particular, Mr Tay noted that mature professionals, managers and executives seem to be the hardest hit in the recent spike in layoffs in the banking sector.

“How is Singapore to develop a resilient core of local talent if the first in line to be retrenched are these mature PMEs, ostensibly because the ones at the top making the decision are anxious to protect their own jobs? Have banks adequately considered the additional risk they potentially face by letting go experienced staff members?” he asked.

Building a resilient and relevant workforce in the financial sector requires a collective effort by each of the tripartite partners, Mr Tay said.

In this age of “destructive technology”, workers must proactively deepen and diversify their skills, in case they need to move across or out of the industry, he added.

Unions and employers must also help workers stay employed and employable, including abiding by fair and responsible employment practices.

The Government plays a vital role as well in minimising job mismatch, and this includes enhancing education programmes to ensure that Singaporeans may be “job-ready” even before entering the industry, Mr Tay stressed.

Agreeing, Mr Wong said that the MAS would work with tertiary institutions to enhance finance and banking modules and ensure more opportunities for structured internships.

Polytechnic students, for instance, may look forward to a new retail banking Earn and Learn programme next year.

The authorities would work with employers to develop more meaningful career progression into specific evolving areas such as risk management, cybersecurity, data analytics and digital banking, Mr Wong said, adding that the MAS has been engaging with top leadership of financial institutions to strengthen a Singaporean talent base in the industry.

“Many are taking proactive steps… to ensure more Singaporeans are taking up key positions in our financial institutions,” he added.

news source: todayonline.com

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