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Ng Chee Meng: NTUC to enhance support for PMEs as membership base reaches 45%

The congress will focus on career protection, progression, and placement.
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By Nicolette Yeo 25 Apr 2024
SG May Day Media Session 2024 (3).JPG
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Professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs) are an increasingly important workforce segment, making up around 42 per cent of the workforce in 2023.


This figure was released by the Manpower Ministry’s Labour Force in Singapore 2023 report.


The trend is reflected in NTUC’s union membership profile, with PMEs forming 45 per cent of its base, excluding migrant workers and student nEbO members.


Recognising the importance of PMEs in the workforce, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said that NTUC aims to enhance its efforts for this group.


“We are committed to providing them with the support they need for career protection, progression, and placement.


“PMEs facing career or workplace challenges can rest assured that NTUC is here to walk alongside them. We want and will do better by you,” said Mr Ng at a media session on 25 April 2024.


He also reiterated his call for more PMEs to join the union so that NTUC can help advance their interests.


Increasing Protection


Mr Ng pointed out that recent initiatives, such as the NTUC-Singapore National Employers Federation (NTUC-SNEF) PME Taskforce, have made significant progress towards achieving workplace fairness.


“One key thing that we wanted to do was work with our IHRP (Institute for Human Resource Professionals) colleagues to train HR professionals in workplace fairness.


“By end of March 2024, I’m glad to report that 75 per cent of 12,000 HR professionals in Singapore have been trained by tripartite partners in conjunction with IHRP,” he elaborated.


Mr Ng added that another successful outcome is the upcoming workplace fairness legislation, which will give the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) legislative powers to uphold fairness at work.


The Government also heeded the Taskforce’s call to give PMEs fair job opportunities by introducing the COMPASS (Complementarity Assessment) framework.


Under the framework, NTUC is involved in assessing Employment Pass applicants via a points-based system. NTUC’s role is to endorse progressive companies committed to strengthening local workforce development through its Company Training Committees (CTCs) or Government-supported programmes.


“This has been working, and we will be looking at how this framework is doing.


“We know that now it provides a transparent, fair, and targeted approach for different sectors or industries where PMEs are concerned. We can always fine-tune as we get better at managing this,” Mr Ng said.


The Congress has also innovated its business model to improve PME representation at the workplace.
The NTUC Secretary-General pointed out that among the 58 unions affiliated with NTUC, there are full executive unions, and all-collar unions that represent a substantial number of PMEs.


He noted that NTUC’s success in the Lazada Singapore restructuring exercise earlier this year proved the effectiveness of unions in helping at-risk PMEs.


“We have gotten a good negotiated outcome with Lazada, and we are happy that we can represent our PME members,” Mr Ng said.


He added that through the exercise, NTUC learnt the importance of building trust with companies by walking the ground and preserving good labour-management relationships.


Boosting Progression


NTUC has also made headway in helping PMEs progress through its CTCs. Around 727 PMEs from 61 CTC Grant companies enjoy an average five per cent wage increase on top of their annual increment and have a career development plan.


Mr Ng cited the success story of ST Engineering, which formed a CTC with the ST Engineering Staff Union.


The company has 12 CTC Grant projects across its businesses, four of which are led by ST Engineering Land Systems. These CTCs impacted 77 employees, of which 31 are PMEs.


Enhancing Placement Support


The Congress has also beefed up its support for PMEs vulnerable to job displacement with the recent opening of the first career centre in the CBD.


The career centre, run by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), provides workers, especially PMEs, with tools, job opportunities, and resources to bolster their employability skills.


About half of those seeking help are PMEs earning over $8,000, indicative of the centre’s relevance to the professional workforce.


“The work that we have done in the last few years has gone some ways to bear this good progress. In career placement, we have appealed to a wider range of PMEs, including an equity advisor, COO from a financial firm, and even a doctor,” Mr Ng shared.


He also warned about the impact of Artificial Intelligence in potentially disrupting PME jobs.


“I’m glad that NTUC has taken some of our innovations very seriously and moved to support all the different segments of the workforce, from blue collar and rank-and-file to now the white collar,” he said.