It is a known fact that the economy is undergoing both a cyclical slowdown, as well as a fundamental, structural slowdown. Consumer habits have changed, production patterns have changed and trade interests are continuously changing.
Chan told Parliament that the labour movement works in the best interests of the nation and will work with employers and the Government to buffer the impact of structural unemployment.
“At this point in time, we are at a critical juncture of our economic transformation. How do we restructure our industries to create the jobs of the future? How do we ramp up the capacity to upskill our workers to equip them with the skills of the future?” he said.
The Secretary General then proceeded to outline the ways in which workers will be supported.
1.) Efforts to provide career guidance and counselling will need to be redoubled.
2.) Government must ensure that workers can use and maximise their SkillsFuture credit by making sure that relevant courses are made available.
3.) There will be what he calls a “second-skilling” of workers. This will help workers (especially those past the age of 40) to be equipped in the event of a retrenchment.
However, the spanner in the works is our abysmal productivity rates. To overcome this, Chan called for a united approach to re-examine mindsets and methods, including looking at job design.
“We got to go sectorally, to examine where are the laggards in our productivity drive. How best can we help them to uplift the productivity in their respective sectors?” he said.
“We either do this or we pretend that some broad macro measures will miraculously lift the productivity of all. I don’t believe that. I’ve visited enough companies to know that no two companies are the same.”
In addressing this same topic, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera suggested a productivity benchmarking system for businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises who lack the resources and information to gauge their performances compared to the rest of the sector.
He said: “This (ranking) would be similar to how our household utilities bill shows a chart of our electricity and water consumption compared to similar-sized households and the national average.”