Friday 30 January 2015

NTUC launches $3m training grant to help PME members

NTUC ramps up courtship of PMEs
Latest $3m push aims to attract more professionals to join partner groups
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 29 Jan 2015

THE labour movement is accelerating its push to reach beyond its traditional working-class base and draw more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) into its fold.

Its latest effort is a $3 million grant to lure more PMEs to join its partner professional groups. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will then help with training and development.

The courtship of the PMEs - or "gold-collars" in the words of labour chief Lim Swee Say - is inevitable.

They will form the majority of the workforce and the NTUC can stay relevant and effective only if it supports the professionals, he said.

"We will see more and more PMEs in our workforce, and more and more PMEs facing the challenges of employment and employability," said Mr Lim, who is secretary-general of the NTUC.

"The tripartite framework is effective in looking after rank-and-file workers... but it is incomplete in looking after the interests of PMEs," he added yesterday at the launch of the grant.

This comes on the back of legislation, which was passed last week in Parliament, to allow rank-and-file unions to represent executives as a group with collective bargaining rights.

The amendments to the Industrial Relations Act also let unions help older PMEs facing individual re-employment disputes after turning 62, which was previously not provided for.

Efforts to be more inclusive began eight years ago, said Mr Lim, when the NTUC repositioned itself as a labour movement for workers of all collars.

"Not just blue-collar, white-collar but also for PMEs - the gold-collars - as well as for the no-collars: self-employed, freelancers and so on," he said.

Around one in five PMEs in the resident labour force, or 285,000 people, are members of the labour movement. It aims to represent one in four eventually.

Its numbers had a boost yesterday as two new associations - the Financial Planning Association of Singapore and the Singapore chapter of the global Project Management Institute (SPMI) - joined the NTUC as U Associate programme partners, bringing the total to 12.

SPMI president Umesh Ursekar said he hopes the partnership and new grant will allow his group to organise bigger events and more training programmes for PMEs.

"We want to help them manage projects better and give them tools to help them be more productive and efficient in their personal and professional lives," he said.

The association has around 2,000 active members, out of more than 10,000 certified project managers in Singapore.

Mr Lim said that professional bodies and unions on their own cannot offer PMEs the full works of protection, progression, placement and privileges.

"But unions working together with professional bodies can offer this complete package," he said.

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