SINGAPORE: More professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) have received assistance in employment.
Giving an update in Parliament on Tuesday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan—Jin said from December 2011 to August this year, over 2,000 PMEs have gone through training and career consultation services with CaliberLink.
It is a one—stop service point for PMEs that integrates training assistance and career services.
The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has also collaborated with the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) to help companies recruit and retain PMEs through a two—year Max Talent Place—and—Train (PnT) programme.
From its launch in May to August this year, ASME has reached out to over 400 PMEs and more than 300 small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
In addition, WDA is collaborating with two private employment agencies to roll out the "PME Specialist Assistance" programme to help unemployed PMEs enhance their employability.
Within two months of its introduction in July this year, over 40 PMEs were referred by WDA’s career centres to the programme.
As Singapore’s labour market continues to tighten, Mr Tan said companies need to tap the pool of older workers to meet their staffing needs.
He said these older workers, especially the PMEs, are experienced, mature and arguably more stable workers who will stay on longer with their companies.
Mr Tan added that strong support in continuing education and training (CET) for PMEs throughout their career is also important.
Four in 10 Singaporean workers are expected to be in the category of PMEs by 2030, as the local workforce become better educated and more skilled.
For example, WDA has put in place the Skills Training for Excellence Programme (STEP) to help PMEs update their skills, knowledge and expertise.
Since the launch of STEP last year, over 65,000 PMEs have benefited from its training programme.
Mr Tan also stressed the need to equip PMEs with the required skills.
A key pillar is a strong higher education system that prepares students with skills relevant to current and future industry needs.
Mr Tan said: "These strategies will continue to be worked (on) as we look at how the world is adapting and how we can adjust ourselves in the process as well. Therefore (we have) to make sure we create the right type of PME jobs for the PMEs that are coming on to the market."
Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Ms Mary Liew expressed concerns that as university places in Singapore grow, mature PMEs who do not have such qualifications may find it difficult to stay competitive.
Mr Tan disagreed, saying: "Some employers may continue to use academic qualifications but it’s only one signal of one’s capabilities. I think most of us will agree there are many different indicators (of) the skills sets. There are other forms of certifications beyond just a graduate degree qualification, (such as) past experience, past employers’ testimonials and ultimately the performance on the job."
Several MPs, including Ms Liew, asked the government to consider more help for mature PMEs to stay competitive against young graduates.
"Will the minister consider offering or increasing available study grants to these PMEs who wish to or who aspire to pursue a degree?" asked Ms Liew.
Mr Tan replied: "I think we should note that a person really does not necessarily need to be university graduate to be successful. They can pursue many skills—based upgrading pathways to hold on to skilled and respectable jobs, be it in the PME job sector or other skilled jobs, such as associate professionals, technicians, craftsman, tradesmen, and so on, which continue to remain important in our economy in Singapore today."
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