Potential Changes to Work Pass qualifications and more support for local PMEs

NewsDecember 01, 2021 20:33


Written by: Clare Chong


A joint task force by The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) submitted 9 recommendations to the government on Oct 20, tightening the Employment Pass application review process and facilitating skills transfer to local professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs).

The four key thrusts

The first thrust relates to enhancing workplace fairness and strengthening the Singaporean core. Due to increased competition for Singapore PMEs brought by Industry 4.0 as well as Covid-19 disruptions, the pressure on PMEs, especially mature candidates has increased significantly. The task force thus suggests a point system be created to consider other factors beyond applicants’ qualifications and salary. Other factors would include sectoral input, whether the employer has been developing and hiring local staff, and diversity of nationalities within the company. Foreign worker access should also be differentiated by occupations, especially for those with ample supply of locals with the requisite skill set. Skill transfer schemes such as the Capability Transfer Programme should be enhanced to facilitate compulsory capability transfer from foreign specialists to local PMEs. HR standards should also be improved with accreditation and enforcement on errant companies should also be strengthened. The task force also recommended setting up a tripartite workgroup to review the scope of union representation of PMEs and expand support for them via legislation.


The second thrust zooms in on providing unemployment relief to support PMEs, especially mature ones who are involuntarily unemployed. A national transitionary support framework to provide supplementary income relief and assistance to those who lost their jobs should be introduced where union members and mature PMEs get an additional layer of support. There would also be active labour market policies where job seekers would need to participate in programmes organised by Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute.


The third thrust focuses on ensuring more hiring opportunities for mature PMEs. This could include short-term salary support for companies that hire mature candidates with relevant skills as well as speeding up training programmes with certification to help them transition into relevant roles.


The last thrust includes support for PMES in career development and skills upgrading. There is a recommendation to build Singaporean leadership bench strength by supporting leadership programmes and facilitating global development. There should also be extra funding for career coaches to NTUC and SNEF to provide tailored support for PMES and develop structured jobs and skills plans for PMEs through NTUC’s company training committees.


What do you think of the above recommendations made by the task force in strengthening the Singaporean core and supporting local PMEs?


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