Saturday, 7 May 2016

Gearing up for PMET economy

By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 6 May 2016

The majority of the workforce here - just over one in two - are professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). By 2030, every two in three workers will fall into this group.

The group warrants attention because its growing size will accentuate problems that are already cropping up in the economic slowdown.

PMETs tend to make up a higher share of laid-off workers than their share of the resident workforce, partly because their jobs are often more susceptible to business cycle downturns. PMETs on average also take longer than the average resident to get back into a job after being laid off.

The labour movement wants to bring more of such people into its fold.

Career guidance, training, networking and job placement are among the services it can provide, said National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Chan Chun Sing and president Mary Liew in a combined May Day message last week.

Such help should provide some relief for workers, especially those worried about retrenchment - a topic clearly on the mind of policymakers as well.

Last month, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say announced enhancements to measures that help retrain and match laid-off PMETs with comparable jobs during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Preparing for the eventuality of the vast majority of workers wanting to work in PMET jobs must start early, and it has - the SkillsFuture initiative has been rolled out with the aim of matching workers' skills more accurately with industry needs.

The challenge going forward is to keep growing the economy so as to continue providing good jobs for Singaporeans, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his May Day Rally speech on Sunday.

When 2030 comes around, the kinds of jobs and functions that PMETs will have in the economy may be quite different from the present ones.

Workers will need to keep an eye on the changing nature of jobs and take charge of their own careers.

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