Wednesday 21 May 2014

Nation of Opportunity - Addenda to President’s Address

More training for PMETs to stay relevant
By Ng Jing Yng, TODAY, 20 May 2014

White-collar workers’ training and employability will be among the areas of focus for policymakers in the second half of the Government’s term, with several programmes and initiatives targeted at PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).

And with 40,000 to 45,000 young Singaporeans expected to enter the job market annually over the next three years, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Education are partnering industry players to prepare citizens for a wide range of specialist, managerial and leadership roles in the economy — as part of the Government’s policies and programmes to ensure economic opportunities and social mobility for its people.

An example of such a partnership is Nanyang Polytechnic’s precision engineering master craftsman programme, which saw its first batch of students graduate yesterday.

Responding to the President’s Address last Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) spelt out the key thrusts of the various ministries to keep Singapore as “a nation of opportunity, where every Singaporean can succeed whatever his starting point; where pathways upwards are open to all, at all stages of life”. In a break from tradition — where ministries would individually release their plans — the responses are grouped under themes this time.

Noting the various efforts and investments under way to transform the economy, the PMO reiterated that a strong economy will create more PMET jobs for Singaporeans. Apart from equipping citizens with the relevant skills, the Government will strengthen the Continuing Education and Training system to make it “more responsive and relevant to evolving needs of industries, companies and individuals”. It will also develop career pathways, as well as improve applied learning tracks and specialist programmes.

Among other measures, the MOM will enhance job facilitation efforts for all displaced workers, including PMETs, and make training more accessible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their workers.

By 2030, it is projected that two in three Singaporeans will hold a white-collar job. However, over the past few years, PMETs were more vulnerable to being made redundant. An MOM report last month said that, last year, PMETs took longer to find employment again as they tend to spend more time seeking jobs that match their skills, qualifications and salary expectations.

Human resource experts noted that a mindset shift is needed among PMETs.

Mr Josh Goh, from Manpower Staffing Services (Singapore), said PMETs are still not as involved in career planning as they should be, such as strategising the skills they need for career progression. JobsCentral group managing director Huang Shao-Ning added that as competition for PMET jobs intensify, this group of workers need to have skills in different disciplines.

Nee Soon GRC MP Patrick Tay, who is the director of NTUC PME Alignment Unit, suggested setting up more targeted training courses for white-collar workers to stay relevant in their respective industries. More internships and proper career mentoring will also be helpful, he said.

Despite the tight labour market, some undergraduates entering the job market soon said they were concerned about their job prospects. They suggested more internships and courses taught by industry practitioners. There could also be more specialised modules to better prepare students, said National University of Singapore final-year life sciences undergraduate Geraldine Khoo.

5 things to know from Day 1 of the Addenda to President's address
The Straits Times, 19 May 2014

President Tony Tan Keng Yam opened the new session of Parliament last Friday, mapping out the Government's priorities and policies for the rest of the term.

For a week starting from Monday, the ministries will unveil their respective plans in public statements, known as Addenda to the President's Address. After that, Parliament will sit, for a week, to debate these plans.

We summarise 5 keys things to know from Day 1 which touched on "Nation of Opportunity":

S'pore's goals: Sharpen economic edge, boost pay
This means switching to higher quality, more productive growth
By Chia Yan Min, The Straits Times, 20 May 2014

SINGAPORE'S challenge if it is to stay "a nation of opportunity, where everyone can succeed whatever his starting point" is to sharpen the economy's competitive edge and lift incomes.

That in turn requires moving to higher quality, more productive growth which is no easy feat especially when it comes to finding the right balance on creating and filling top managerial and leadership jobs.

These goals were outlined in the first addenda to the President's Address - public statements by government ministries on their upcoming plans.

The House will sit next Monday at 1.30pm to debate the President's address, and the various programmes announced by the ministries this week.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said it would persevere in the ongoing economic restructuring effort. More than $300 million has been set aside over the next three years to help small and medium-sized enterprises.

Singapore also has to ensure that workers are equipped with high-level skills to take on cutting edge jobs, such as 3D printing in the manufacturing industry.

The focus will be on creating good jobs for the 40,000 to 45,000 young Singaporeans entering the job market every year for the next three years. Two-thirds of these Singaporeans aspire to become professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), as well as technicians.

Meeting their job aspirations will be a challenge, especially since the workforce also needs to have "the right balance", said Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran.

"We cannot just have PME jobs, we need other jobs to complement them... A larger base that supports the activities of PMEs," he said.

Singapore's role as a hub for businesses in the region will boost the number of positions available for PMEs here, as companies use the Republic as a base to coordinate their activities, he added.

Mr Iswaran was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural graduation ceremony for the Precision Engineering Master Craftsman programme, held yesterday at Nanyang Polytechnic.

The two-year part-time course is an industry recognition scheme that aims to boost skills of industry professionals. It is based on similar programmes in countries such as Germany and Japan.

OCBC economist Selena Ling said manufacturing is no stranger to evolution and so it has "a bit of a headstart" over domestically-oriented services firms when it comes to restructuring.

"Singapore has always tried to reinvent its niche in manufacturing... Most of our manufactured goods are exported, so the competition is global," said Ms Ling.

"To get that competitive edge we have to identify trends before they fully emerge," she added.

Singapore firms such as Express Tech Manufacturing have already begun moving into emerging areas such as 3D printing.

The company, which specialises in making precision moulds for the electronics and automotive industries, has manufacturing facilities in China and Singapore which make use of the technology.

Company director Leong Yoke Ming has set up a subsidiary - called Additive Manufacturing - to focus on taking it further.

"Besides adding value to what we are currently doing, we also hope to break new ground in the future and diversify our business into supporting other industries, like defence, aerospace and oil and gas among others," he said.


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