How can we support retrenched PMEs? Patrick Tay calls for 3 F’s.


How might the Government take care of local Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), who are in particularly precarious positions when retrenched?

MP for Pioneer SMC Mr Patrick Tay has three F’s to keep this segment of Singapore’s workforce resilient: Financial support, Facilitated employment and training and Fair access to PME roles.    

Below is an abridged version of Mr Tay’s three F’s from his Budget debate speech delivered today (Feb 23).

Financial support for displaced workers

First, short-term financial support for displaced workers.

Today, PMEs are generally less likely to receive support from the Government in view of their earlier higher income. However, PMEs are an increasingly vulnerable group because of rapid economic changes and cycles.

When complemented with active labour market interventions, unemployment support — or using another term, re-employment support — can help displaced PMEs in their job search journey. 

The support provides displaced workers the space to upgrade their skills and look out for suitable employment, with the knowledge that they would be able to continue supporting their family’s basic needs during this difficult period.

This increases the likelihood of PMEs looking for jobs that are a good match to their skillsets or which offer progression opportunities. With a better job match, their employment duration at their next job could be longer, and any underemployment mitigated.

I would like to reiterate the call for the Government to go a step further, and introduce a permanent scheme that would provide short-term unemployment support for all workers who are involuntarily displaced, including PMEs.

Facilitated employment and training to upgrade workers for the new economy

The second important element is Facilitated employment and training.

Job-seeking can be a very daunting experience, especially when the individual is forced to seek new employment involuntarily.

In another online survey with 1,000 respondents conducted in April 2021 as part of the PME Taskforce work, only 58 per cent of matured PMEs were confident in getting a job with their current skills and capabilities. 

Our employment facilitation landscape must optimise the job-seeker experience by funnelling them seamlessly to the support they need at various stages.

This could be in the form of customised career counselling, or training that would equip them to take on jobs in growth areas or redesigned job roles.

Thereafter, we need to enable a good career match, via schemes such as the Career Conversion Programme, which allow workers to be placed in new roles, and then undergo structured on-the-job training to transit into the new role. 

Finally, we must continuously monitor outcomes for participants so we can come in and support them in a timely manner.

NTUC’s e2i is committed to working closely with the Government to support jobseekers, particularly the 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.

Fair access to PME roles for our locals

We must ensure a level playing field for our local PMEs and that the foreign talent that we bring in complement our local workforce.

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.

I would like to call for the Government and tripartite partners to generate more awareness on the importance of improving HR standards, possibly through IHRP certification, and to further collaborate to improve existing policies and practices.

Where retrenchments are inevitable, the Government must ensure fair and responsible retrenchment practices are adopted.

I hope that the upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation will strike a good balance between protecting our local workforce and managing business needs.

Images via e2i, A*STAR, Patrick Tay/Facebook