Task force calls for more support for unemployed workers
Proposals include financial aid for those who are involuntarily jobless, special attention paid to PMEs
Workers who find themselves involuntarily unemployed could be given financial aid while they wait to move into new jobs, if a proposal made by the labour movement and employer's federation is accepted.
Additional support could be offered to union members and vulnerable, mature workers, they suggested.
This was among nine recommendations released yesterday following a year-long consultation exercise on better ways to assist professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).
The initiative, which was carried out by a task force from the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), involved consultations with around 10,000 workers and business leaders.
NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said: "PMEs feel the pressure from foreign competition and... mature PMEs find it challenging to bounce back when they lose their jobs.
"Thus, we must do more to level the playing field for our local PMEs, while enabling other forms of employment and employability-related support, like unemployment transition support, job search or training support, for them."
NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said more issues have to be studied, such as when to give out unemployment support, how much to give and for how long.
At the same time, these workers must show they are actively trying to find work by participating in employability camps and going for job interviews.
Specifically, there should be more help for PMEs aged over 40, the task force added, calling on the Government to provide short-term salary support of up to 50 per cent, capped at $3,800 a month for six months, for firms that hire them.
There should also be more fast-track training programmes with certification to help them transition into new roles. The task force wants the application process for employment pass holders reviewed in a bid to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce.
The process could also use a point system that factors in whether the employer has been hiring local workers and the diversity of nationalities within the company, the report said.
The task force proposed enhancing workplace fairness by imposing tough penalties on errant companies.
SNEF president Robert Yap said: "Providing support to strengthen the employability of local PMEs is essential for employers to meet their manpower and skill demand."
Experts agreed that the call to help PMEs came even before the pandemic, but Covid-19 exacerbated the issues these workers face.
OCBC chief economist Selena Ling added that PMEs had faced challenging circumstances in a Covid-19 environment.
"The ageist mindset perception that older workers are harder to retrain and expensive doesn't help," she added.
Mr Ng said the Government could consider the recommendations. He hopes to get some clarity next year.
"I think this is an important and urgent issue for the labour movement, and NTUC wants to step in - in the interest of our vulnerable PMEs," he said.
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