Chan: Gain exposure to get to the top…

The NTUC recently held its third Future Leaders Summit where labour chief Chan Chun Sing was its keynote speaker.


In his usual candid manner he shared on the things that the labour movement is doing for PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians), and at times interacting with the audience to get a response on certain topics.

With a growing number of PMETs in the workforce, the NTUC has expanded its reach to cover PMETs in addition to the Rank-and-File workers.


Here are 6 highlights of his speech:

  1. Good news

Many companies are setting up their regional or global headquarters in Singapore, turning Singapore into a regional or global hub. This contributes to the growing number of PMETs in Singapore. Some of the jobs offered include Managerial positions of regional operations.



  1. Challenges

With more opportunities comes challenges. When companies set up headquarters here in Singapore, they do not serve the local market alone, but the regional market and beyond.

Hence, the Chief Executive Officers are looking for teams of people with the global and regional perspective and experience. This results in a great deal of opportunities for Singaporeans to take on the job.



  1. Skillsets?

Chan asked if Singaporeans have the experience or exposure to take on those jobs that require global and regional perspectives.

He said Singapore needs many more of its people to reach the very top of C-Suite (CEOs, COOs, CIOs).

Hence, in order to reach the top, Singaporeans need to have the experience and exposure to gain the global and regional perspective.

“This is where NTUC comes in to help,” he said.


ntuc logo

  1. NTUC’s help

Chan shared that the NTUC is in talks with CEOs to create opportunities and partnerships that allow the current generation of PMETs to get exposure when they are young before they grow older, settle down and start a family.  In that sense, he is encouraging more young PMEs to go out and get the experience and exposure.

And his message to young PMETS is this:

Yes, I know it is tough to go overseas…it is not comfortable… the pay might not be as good in Singapore…the living environment not as good as Singapore. But in order to reach the very top position in 10 to 15 years time or 15 to 20 years time, we must be prepared to fight from today to get the exposure. So that in 10-15 years time, when the Singaporean PME is competing with someone else for that C-Suite position in Singapore or elsewhere, we stand the best chance possible.

– Chan Chun Sing, NTUC Secretary General



  1. NTUC’s concern

Besides being concerned about helping the current generation of PMETs to find jobs, the NTUC is concerned about the older generation of PMETs who are displaced by the “rapid economic cycles and production cycles.”

Looking ahead, Mr Chan shared that the NTUC is also concerned that the next generation of PMETs are in the best position possible to reach the top positions by the time they settle down and start a family. “Otherwise it will be very frustrating, to see so many good jobs being created in Singapore for the regional and global operations, but we find that we have not equipped our Singaporeans early enough in their career to compete for those jobs,” he said.



  1. Getting out of comfort zone

Mr Chan also urged young PMETs to go out of their comfort zone and walk the streets and see for themselves what the world is like elsewhere. In relation to gaining experience and exposure, he said that without the diversity of ideas and experience, Singaporeans won’t have the resilience which will lead to the inability to “cross-pollinate the ideas from different societies and different sectors to enrich our very home”.



“Having walked through it, I would say that it’s not something insurmountable. And I would encourage the young PMETs to look at opportunities beyond Singapore so that we can bolster our credentials and one day we can all come back with the diversity of experience…If we can do that individually for ourselves and collectively as a nation then I think we can look forward with pride and confidence toward SG100.”

– Chan Chun Sing, on looking at opportunities beyond Singapore.


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Image Credits: Yahoo SG.

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Arthur Lee

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