Chan Chun Sing: The best welfare for workers is to have a good job

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

That’s probably what Minister Chan Chun Sing meant when he said the best welfare for working people is to have a good job. One that helps them be future-ready.

In the past, you would consider a stable job that pays well, a good job.

But that’s not sufficient in this new age economy where everything can be disrupted, including jobs that were once considered stable.

Who would have thought retail businesses would be so badly hit by the disruption of online shopping? Ride-hailing apps – who would have thought a third party app could take away taxi drivers’ lunch and force them to disrupt themselves?

That’s the thing with disruption – it catches you off guard and sweeps you off your feet.

But Singapore is determined to stay ahead of the curve.

In Minister Desmond Lee’s words, “if you get involved in the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), you manage disruption. You set the rules for the game for the industry.”

There are 23 ITMs and each ITM is a roadmap to transform the sector for the future. The Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers are coming together to address issues within each industry.

They are basically paving the way for tomorrow’s jobs.

The Labour Movement has a crucial role in this transformation process. It needs to prepare workers to have tomorrow’s skills to do tomorrow’s jobs.

Traditionally, unions used the collective agreement to protect the interests of rank-and-file workers but there are more PMEs than rank-and-file workers now. PMEs currently make up one-third of Singapore’s resident workforce.

The Labour Movement amended its constitution last year to expand its representation.

Its main focus now is to mobilise the workers through training to ensure companies continue to remain viable during digital disruptions.

Workers get to keep their jobs by staying relevant to the company and economy.

“Training, training, training”

At the May Day Rally 2018, Minister Chan announced that the Labour Movement has raised a total of $50 million in the last two years.

This totals up to $200 million worth of NTUC-Education and Training Fund (NETF) including the $150 million given by the Government two years ago.

NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) also launched the U Leap Enterprise at the rally.

The ULeap app aims to provide bite-size training modules for working people to learn on-the-go and in the shortest time possible.

The ULeap Enterprise is more specific to companies where they can work with LM’s training network to customise bite-size modules for its workers on the platforms.

Think of it as lifelong learning on mobile.

This would be particularly useful for workers who absolutely have no time to attend training.

When they are on the app, they can keep abreast of the industry changes and refresh their knowledge to stay relevant.  

ITMs sound wonderful as a concept but it will take time to materialise.

Singapore is definitely kiasu (scared to lose out) in this aspect but it’s reassuring to know that the nation is already worrying about the future when other countries are still worrying about day-to-day issues.

Hopefully this kiasu and kiasi (scared to die) attitude of ours will keep us alive for many years to come!

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