Tripartite partnership even more crucial in post-Covid S’pore

It’s worth repeating this again: tripartism is the bedrock of an inclusive & progressive Singaporean society.

After all, the Singapore success story cannot be told without the cooperation between employers, trade unions and the Government.

And it’s going to take on a more crucial role in a post-pandemic Singapore.

The future is now

Covid-19, besides being a healthcare crisis of a generation, is also a harbinger of change for the workforce, with Zoom meetings and work from home settings seen as commonplace now.

And that’s not all that is happening in the labour market: the pandemic brought about a quicker rate of change.

A McKinsey report said that the pandemic accelerated existing trends in e-commerce, remote working and automation, with up to 25 per cent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.

In Singapore, a majority of CEOs (72 per cent) have seen their new digital business models accelerate during the Covid-19 period, said KMPG.

It’s a natural state of progression, a fact pointed out by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Chee Hong Tat.

He said in a radio interview: “The pandemic is a challenge. But it also reminds companies that if you do not continue to increase productivity and serve customers through different technologies and platforms, business will be affected whenever there’s competition or crisis.”

All these point only to one thing: workers need to upgrade or add to their existing skillset, pronto.

This is where tripartism is so important. One of the key tripartite focuses is training and upgrading the workforce.

For example, the Progressive Wage Model – one of the many fruits of tripartism – doesn’t just mean improved wages: it also means training and growth opportunities for workers. NTUC too also provides subsidised training for workers while the Government has SkillsFuture that provides life-long training opportunities for all.

Catching the wave

Singapore is poised to boost its economy in a big way and there are a few signs lately that point to that.

First, as mentioned in his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the plans for Changi Airport Terminal 5 and Tuas Port, which will make Singapore more even attractive to investors.

Second, Singapore’s handling of the pandemic has been good and make investors more confident to invest in Singapore, said SMS Chee.

He added that Singapore should make good use of the opportunities to attract more investors and talents to Singapore, expand the economy and create more job opportunities for Singaporeans.

Lastly, the latest initiative to attract top talents around the world also sends a strong signal to overseas investors that Singapore doesn’t just have the infrastructure but also the best talents.

All these coupled with the fact that Singapore’s workforce remains stable – a result of tripartism – make Singapore all the more ready to emerge stronger from the pandemic.

With the sheer number of jobs the Government will be creating, the conditions are ripe for Singaporeans. With the right training and upskilling, everyone stands to benefit.

The tripartite partnership doesn’t just transform our economy, as mentioned above, it can also transform our workforce through training.

That’s how we build a strong local core that is productive and attracts investments. And by having a strong, attractive local core, it allows the Government to implement policies that benefit all workers, making sure that no workers are left behind.

Lower-wage workers continue to experience real wage and career growth; persons with disabilities are able to work and make meaningful contributions in an inclusive society; PMETs are protected through the strengthening of labour protections; and older workers can continue to work if they wish to, and receive support from the government, unions and employers. 

We must be ready for the post-Covid world but with tripartism on our side, we have the best chance of succeeding.

Cover photo credit: Peter Nguyen on Unsplash