Workers’ needs are changing…and you won’t believe how unions are keeping up

Businesses all evolve over time.

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Retailers today have taken on other services and business models, on top of just selling goods which they have traditionally did in the past.

Diversification of business is something that businesses are beginning to do to enter into a new market which the business is not currently in.

Similarly, the labour movement in Singapore is diversifying its business model by expanding its services to meet the needs of different groups of workers.

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Traditionally, unions in Singapore are focused on Collective Agreements and Collective Bargaining to represent rank-and-file and blue-collared workers.

This worked in the last few decades of the unions existence. But if the labour movement is to remain relevant, it has to go beyond that to see to the needs of the different workers whose numbers are increasing.

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PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) today do not need Collective Agreements and Collective Bargaining. What they do look for, amongst other services, is the ability to be more employable, by upgrading their skills.

One way the NTUC plans to meet the aspirations of PMETs in the workforce and to pursue career development opportunities is by the NTUC-Education and Training Fund (NETF).

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At the recent May Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced that the government will provide additional support to the fund by providing a 1:3 matching grant of a total of $200 million.

NTUC will collaborate with  suitable Institute of Higher Learning to provide relevant courses  to all working people who are looking to upgrade their skills. The first of such a collaboration is with the Nanyang Technological University.

28 Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) courses will commence in August 2016 targeting workers from key growth sectors such as Biomedical Instrumentation, Data Analytics, Digital Electronics, Nanomaterials fundamentals and applications, as well as advanced Molecular Genetics.

And if you don’t know which course to take or what industry to go into if you decide to do a mid-career switch, NTUC Secretary General Chan Chun Sing announced in a media session recently, that the NTUC will be growing its current pool of 50 permanent career coaches to include 500 more adjunct career coaches over the next 5 to 8 years.

The difference? These adjunct career coaches are workers themselves who are still working in the various industries and can provide “timely advice” to job-seekers.

Change, as they say, is the only constant. Hence, while the needs of workers change, it is only natural that the services of the labour movement continue to change in tandem to support workers.

 

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Arthur Lee

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