TL;DR – Labour MPs echo the concerns of workers regarding retirement adequacy, rising costs of living and involuntarily-unemployment support at today’s Budget Debate. Labour MP Patrick Tay has started advocating financial support for displaced workers since 2014.
Budget Debate 2023
With rapid restructuring, new energy and technological disruptions, the nature of work is evolving and the longevity of the skills we acquire is shortening. As such, workers are anxious about their job security.
At today’s Budget Debate, Labour Member of Parliament (LMP) Patrick Tay said, “Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) especially those in their 40s to 60s are in particularly precarious positions when retrenched because they generally have more dependents to take care of, but they also take a longer time to find a new job in view of their age and lack of relevant skillsets. Upon re-entry to employment, there is also an increasing propensity for them to suffer from wage loss.”
In his speech, Mr Tay introduced a threefold approach (also referred to as the 3Fs) that aims to cushion the financial impact on displaced workers while they search for new employment. The 3Fs scheme is more than a resource to alleviate household and daily expenses, rather, it provides training needs for workers to make up for the caps in their skill set so they can quickly bounce back to employment.
The 3Fs scheme
1. Financial support
Monetary support provided to displaced workers and their families while they search for new employment will cushion the financial impact on their household, especially for sole breadwinners with dependents.
2. Facilitated employment and training
As some PMEs may encounter skill gaps when applying for new opportunities, providing training courses to upgrade workers will help them seize opportunities in the new economy.
The facilitation process should optimise the job-seekers’ experience by directing them to the support they need at different stages.
(i) Customised career counselling or training that would equip them to take on jobs in growth areas or redesigned job roles.
(ii) Through Career Conversion Programmes, workers will be placed in new roles and undergo on-the-job training for a smooth transition.
(iii) Continuously monitor their outcomes to access the support they require and ensure that support is rendered in a timely manner.
3. Fair access to PME roles
Enable our local PMEs to compete with foreign PMEs by levelling the playing field. Mr Tay added in today’s Budget Debate, “Employers should establish and implement policies and practices to foster a fair and inclusive workplace and provide a safe environment for workers to report concerns.”
To achieve this, Mr Tay hopes that the upcoming Workplace Fairness legislation will strike a good balance between protecting our local workforce and managing business needs.
Why financial support for displaced workers?
Mr Tay stressed that PMEs are an increasingly vulnerable group because of rapid economic changes, and they are less likely to receive Government support because of their higher income.
As part of the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce, a survey was conducted in April 2021, with 80% of the 500 respondents supporting the introduction of unemployment support. Amongst the 9 recommendations proposed in the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce report, ‘Unemployment Support and Benefits’ was one of them.
Financial support combined with unemployment support (or re-employment support) can relieve displaced PMEs from the financial stresses of not having a monthly income and allow them to focus on upgrading their skills while looking for suitable employment.
This will increase the likelihood of PMEs looking for jobs that are a good match to their skillsets, and/ or a job that also offer progression opportunities. With a better job match, underemployment will be reduced and the duration of their next employment could be longer.
Enhancing training to ease reliance on 3Fs
While the system is in place to help those who are displaced, Mr Tay added, “we must also facilitate upskilling and reskilling amongst those who are still in employment. I urge the Government to consider incentivizing more employers to send their employees for training, by providing higher funding support for Absentee Payroll and providing maximum funding for courses relevant to sectors where there is a shortage of local PMEs.”
NTUC’s e2i is committed to working closely with the government to support jobseekers, especially workers who are more vulnerable, mature tech mid-careerists, as well as those most likely to be affected by the green transition, such as workers in the oil and gas industries. e2i’s Lift-and-Place model can be leveraged to facilitate the movement of workers from sectors that are declining, to adjacent sectors that require similar skills, or sectors that need to quickly ramp up operations.
NTUC will continue to champion all workers so that every worker can secure better wages, welfare and work prospects.