NTUC to focus on preserving jobs, worker training: Ng Chee Meng

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While technicians at an aerospace firm were facing the prospect of losing their jobs earlier this year, hard disk manufacturer Seagate was looking for similarly-skilled workers.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) got wind of their needs and played matchmaker. After a couple of weeks of training, the former aerospace technicians were back at work - but with a new employer, Seagate.

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng yesterday recounted the employment switch, which took place amid the coronavirus outbreak, to underline NTUC's intensified effort to help at-risk workers.

Besides job matching, the NTUC will focus on training and preserving and creating jobs.

Singapore resident unemployment rate rose to 3.3 per cent in March, the highest in more than a decade. And earlier this week, the Government said the economy is expected to shrink between 4 per cent and 7 per cent this year, potentially Singapore's worst recession since independence.

Mr Ng told reporters at a virtual press conference that many unionised companies are short of workers because their Malaysian employees are back home .

NTUC has stepped in to help those with shortages by moving workers from companies with excess workers, he said.

"We are able to move workers even before they are retrenched, and in some cases, it is on a secondment basis for three months."

The seconded workers will return to their companies when the pandemic is over, he added.

More than 7,000 workers have moved into jobs in sectors such as logistics, medical technology and security, helped by NTUC's Job Security Council, which was set up in February.

Mr Ng said the council, which represents about 7,000 companies, will play a supporting role to the National Jobs Council announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday. The National Jobs Council oversees efforts to help Singaporeans master skills needed to stay employable in a challenging economy.

To preserve jobs during the pandemic, NTUC is working with companies to find ways for them to keep workers while cutting costs.