Singapore

Labour movement to help train workers for them to stay relevant

Labour chief says aim is to reach 330,000 workers in next three years

The labour movement wants to be relevant to more workers as jobs transform.

It is getting more involved in company training so workers can have better job prospects by being ready for new technology and business models.

It is also creating new types of unions to represent more workers, and is calling for the retirement and re-employment ages to be raised to 65 and 70 respectively, to help senior workers.

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng said the aim is to have 1,000 company training committees within the next three years, reaching 330,000 workers. This will help workers accept and adopt technology more readily and help companies reap the benefits of their investments.

"There are companies that spend a few hundred million dollars on new technology capitalisation and then realise halfway through, or even worse, later, that the workers don't know how to use it, and the workers refuse to use it," said Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Unions will help companies put together training schedules and bring in expertise from educational institutes to design training, as well as encourage companies to transform.

In a joint May Day message today, Mr Ng and NTUC president Mary Liew said there are 18 committees so far.

Given the fourth industrial revolution, "workers must be trained in tandem, as Workers 4.0, to not only keep up with this transformation, but secure better work prospects", they said.

Their message comes 50 years since the landmark Trade Union Seminar on Modernisation of the Labour Movement in 1969, where the NTUC and the People's Action Party Government began a more collaborative approach to industrial relations management with businesses.

They said the labour movement is innovating to stay relevant and representative, as more workers are in professional, manager and executive (PME) roles.

Mr Ng said the number of PME union members is rising, but not at a satisfactory rate.

"NTUC would like very much to assist PMEs. So we are looking at what value we can bring into this space for you that will cause you to join NTUC voluntarily," he said.

It recognises that cost of living is a key concern for workers, and continues to push for better wages for low-wage workers.

Mr Ng said the NTUC wants to see retirement and re-employment ages raised to 65 and 70 respectively, from 62 and 67. The Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers will make recommendations this year on raising the ages and on Central Provident Fund rates for such workers.

Employment