Ministry of Manpower to focus on career mobility, says Minister Teo
Manpower Minister says people will receive help to access opportunities
There are people who are happy with their current jobs but are also looking for opportunities to advance. It is important that they receive help to access opportunities, said Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo yesterday on the sidelines of the annual Ministry of Manpower workplan seminar at Orchid Country Club.
In her opening speech, Mrs Teo said: "If students should have multiple pathways to advance while in education, it is even more important that working people have multiple career tracks that are rewarding."
"Most (Singaporeans) want the opportunity to learn, to grow. No one wants to stay in the same spot forever... This desire for career mobility is very similar to the desire for social mobility," she told about 1,000 staff from the ministry and its statutory boards, as well as union leaders.
In a speech centred on career mobility, Mrs Teo focused on three groups of employees, namely seniors, those whose jobs are affected by technological changes and those who face career stagnation.
For seniors, the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers was formed last year, and it is looking at reviewing the retirement and re-employment age and the CPF contribution rates for older workers.
With technology increasingly playing vital roles in the workplace and crucial to improving productivity, many in the workforce - including professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and white-collar workers - fear they could be replaced by robots or other technological improvements.
Allaying their concerns, Mrs Teo said that not only were the number of PMETs retrenched last year the lowest since 2014, there were also more job vacancies for them.
As for employees facing career stagnation, employers are being urged to find the means, like using technology, and allow opportunities for skills upgrading and career advancement.
Mrs Teo raised the example of Ms Aryani Suhardi, who has worked as a customer service executive at Prudential since 2006.
A chat-bot was launched to handle some of the routine queries she had and she became its trainer. This equipped her with new knowledge and skills to train a chat-bot.
The seminar also saw Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad talking about support for low-wage workers.
He said: "As Singapore transforms and prospers, it is even more important that we ensure lower wage workers are also able to be a part of this prosperity and access new opportunities."
Mr Zaqy raised the new Workcare initiatives that aim to ensure decent work environments for lower-wage workers. The initiatives, as a start, are focusing on proper rest areas for workers.
Place to chill out for Suntec City’s outsourced workers
About two years ago, employees of one of the service providers in Suntec City bought their own appliances, like standing fans, to furnish their rest area.
They even used discarded tables and chairs to spruce up the place.
All that changed in January last year when their rest area, which used to be an empty space, was air-conditioned and free Wi-Fi was provided.
Rest areas were previously spread around Suntec City and individual providers managed their respective rest points.
With the new rest area termed The Crystal Place, there is a consolidated area for all outsourced field workers there.
The Crystal Place consists of communal areas as well as nine satellite offices for various outsourced service providers.
Other facilities include piped-in music, lockers, an ironing board and drink dispensers selling both hot and cold beverages at subsidised prices.
Mr Nicholas Tan, general manager (managing agent), APM Property Management, said: "We used to have multiple small rest areas scattered around the premises. But with this consolidated space, it is very convenient.
"We hope to improve staff welfare and build a sense of belonging among workers."
On Monday, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad was given a tour of the rest area, along with the media.
He said: "Having proper rest areas can make a difference in the welfare of the workers. We hope to encourage employers and service buyers to provide proper rest areas, where workers can find space not just to rest but find solace."
Although there are currently 334 workers who benefit from the area, congestion is not an issue because break timings are staggered and largely flexible, depending on their jobs.
Mr K. Ramesh, 55, senior cleaning supervisor of ISS World, who has been working at Suntec City for 19 years, said: "Ever since this area was set up, morale among the staff has been very high. There is more bonding among them as well." - GOH RUOXUE