Companies should not retrench yet, now is best time to retrain workers

Labour MP Patrick Tay

The government is going all out to urge companies not to retrench, but rather, use the lull period now to develop their workers. Althougn in the short term companies will be hit by both twin effects of the virus and the uncertain global economy but as with all markets, they will rebound even stronger. There are already reports that China is on its way to seeing a V-shaped recovery.

Question is, are both employees and businesses poised for the re-bound?

Whilst the industry grapple with these questions, the government has put into action a strategy to inject both short term assistance and build long-term measures.

The Stabilisation and Support Package announced at Budget 2020 will be relevant to both businesses and workers. It provides assurance and support in this time of economic uncertainty and ensure every worker matters and every job counts.

This is only possible with the tripartite co-operation.

…many union leaders, workers as well as my grassroots leaders and residents have shared positive feedback about this year’s Budget“, said Labour MP Patrick Tay. “At a personal level, I am sure the Stabilization and Support Package announced at Budget 2020 will be a boon to both businesses and workers, as it provides assurance and support in this time of economic uncertainty and ensure every worker matters and every job counts.”

Businesses will receive job and cash flow support the purpose of retaining and retrain workers. With this package and together with the Company Training Committees, companies are in better position to hold off retrenchments and will be able to afford to keep jobs and train workers at the same time.

Workers on the other hand, will get assistance through the various SkillsFuture credit schemes to upgrade, up-skill, to stay employable and to stay relevant in the industry.

To be specific, here are the 3 things in the Budget package that workers can look forward to.

  1. SkillsFuture credit increase

Workers have to be responsible for their own learning, first and foremost. With the funding available, there is little excuse not to really get involved and go deep about whatever trade you’re in. Furthermore, this would be very useful to freelancers and self-employed individuals, people without the backing of a company.

2. Added focus on mid-career workers (40-60)

This group continues to be the most vulnerable and affected by retrenchments, with higher skilled, middle- aged PMEs the hardest hit. Mature and older workers (including PMEs) also face greater difficulty in the job market with the long-term unemployment rate of Singaporeans climbing with age. For those who are unemployed or retrenched, re- entry into the labour market is also an uphill task. In my interactions with mature workers, and especially PMEs, they have shared their concerns about being made redundant by younger colleagues or being replaced by technology and job automation. In short, they worry about staying employed and staying employable.

3. SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit for employers

Employers are roped in to be proactively involved in the training and development of their employees. In this Budget, credit for employers will serve as a catalyst for companies (especially SMEs) to simultaneously develop their workforce as they transform their business.

In particular, the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit will further augment and complement existing efforts by the NTUC in their efforts with the Company Training Committees. These efforts, introduced last year, aims to equip workers across all sectors and all sizes of companies with the necessary skills, so that they can secure better wages, better welfare and better work prospects.

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