18 Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Manpower (a) to date this year, how many PMETs under 40 years of age have been made redundant; (b) what is the rationale to restrict the Career Support Programme for PMETs to those who have been unemployed for six months or more; and (c) whether this restriction to access the programme should be removed for the PMETs.
10 Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan asked the Minister for Manpower in light of the Q2 2016 Labour Market report wherein it is indicated that there is a rise in the unemployment rate, a lower rate of re-entry and the number of unemployed persons has now outnumbered job vacancies, what is Ministry doing to (i) overcome these three trends including youth unemployment (ii) help the unemployed especially the vulnerable who have a lower re-entry rate and (iii) minimise the skills/jobs/expectations mismatches that have contributed to the unemployment.
11 Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye asked the Minister for Manpower (a) why the rate of employment among locals has remained stagnant over the past 18 months despite the tightening on foreign manpower supply; and (b) what is being done to address and overcome this trend.
12 Mr Desmond Choo asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether there will be a further rise in job losses in the next 12 months; (b) what are the sectors that are likely to be more impacted; and (c) whether is there a need to tighten up Employment Passes and S-Passes as more local PMETs become available due to increasing job losses and slower job growth.
13 Mr Liang Eng Hwa asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether there will be a further rise in job losses in the next 12 months; (b) what are the sectors that are likely to be more impacted; and (c) whether is there a need to tighten up Employment Passes and S-Passes as more local PMETs become available due to increasing job losses and slower job growth.
14 Ms Foo Mee Har asked the Minister for Manpower whether the Government will review the Employment Pass scheme in light of increasing redundancies affecting PMEs.
15 Mr Ang Hin Kee asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether there will be enhanced efforts by the various job placement agencies to assist with job matching services for local workers who are retrenched or jobseekers who have been unsuccessful in their job search efforts; (b) what is the Ministry's assessment of employers' readiness level in supporting these efforts; and (c) what can employers do to make job vacancies and requirements be made known to jobseekers beyond listing on the national Jobs Bank.
16 Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the Ministry has any plans to better help retrenched local workers, particularly PMETs, in their job searching process; and (b) whether the list of Professional Conversion Programmes can be expanded to cover more industries and sectors so that PMETs can have more career options.
17 Mr Christopher de Souza asked the Minister for Manpower what programmes and initiatives have been created to assist Singaporeans to secure employment and to encourage companies and employers to create new job vocations and opportunities in the present economic climate.
19 Dr Tan Wu Meng asked the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will consider upgrading the national Jobs Bank to a national Jobs Registry by (i) making it mandatory for employers to advertise all job openings in parallel within the national Jobs Bank even if the job opening has been advertised through other platforms and (ii) requiring employers to report hiring outcomes to the Ministry.
20 Ms Jessica Tan Soon Neo asked the Minister for Manpower what measures are in place to help displaced workers with new job opportunities and to create more quality jobs.
21 Mr Ang Wei Neng asked the Minister for Manpower how are e2i and other relevant job matching agencies beefing up their effort to help Singaporeans find suitable jobs especially those affected by job redundancy.
The Minister for Manpower (Mr Lim Swee Say): Mdm Speaker, may I have your permission to take Question Nos 10 to 21 together, please.
Mdm Speaker: Yes, please.
Mr Lim Swee Say: Madam, my replies to PQs are normally very short. Today, my reply would not be 12 times longer, but I will take slightly longer, so I hope Members will please bear with me.
Madam, these 12 questions cover three broad areas: major developments in our local market, employment support for our workers and regulation of foreign manpower supply.
In response to Mr Patrick Tay and Mr Melvin Yong, on the ground, there is much concern that local employment growth has been flat. It went up by 700 last year, and came down by 200 in the first half of this year, giving a net increase of just 500 over 18 months. I am concerned too.
Fortunately, while unemployment rate increased, it did not rise sharply. It exceeded marginally, the range of 2.6% - 2.9% registered in the past five years, to reach 3% in June 2016.
I was puzzled. Why did the sharp drop in local employment growth not lead to a sharp rise in unemployment rate? With the help of my colleagues at MOM, I soon discovered that the main reason for the flat growth in local employment was a slowdown in local workforce growth. Let me share what I learnt with this House.
Mdm Speaker, with your permission, may I display a few charts on the LED please.
Mdm Speaker: Yes, please.
Mr Lim Swee Say: In the three years from 2012 to 2014, an average of 226,000 locals joined, and 153,000 left, the workforce each year, giving an average net increase of 73,000, or 79,000 if we were to include the self-employed.
But in 2015, the number of locals entering dropped significantly by about 36,000, while the number leaving increased by about 37,000. This is a swing of 73,000, and this resulted in the flat growth in our local employment to just 700.
This swing was partly cyclical. We saw more people left employment after termination, and completion of contract and casual employment. More also left to pursue further studies and upgrading.
But the swing was also structural, across all age groups. For those aged 25-64, our labour force participation rate of 83.1% is already high and showing signs of plateauing. For the younger ones aged 15-24, the size of the cohort entering the labour force had already peaked in 2013 and started to decline since then. More importantly, the number of people retiring is also on the rise, doubling over the last two years. This will continue as more baby boomers enter retirement.
In short, even though the numbers of exits and entries in our local workforce will fluctuate from year to year due to prevailing economic conditions and policy factors, but with ageing and lower birth rates, coupled with our relatively high labour force participation rate and low unemployment rate, we will see a continued slowdown of local labour force growth, towards negligible levels, or even stagnation in the next decade.
This has three major implications. First, we must work our way towards more healthy economic growth. Even though flat local employment growth in the past 18 months did not lead to a sharp rise in unemployment rate or any drop in our labour force participation, we are still concerned that this could still happen if the global economic situation does not improve or worsen further. We must make sure that the current low growth of 1%-2% is transitional. Our future norm should be 2%-3% of quality growth, not 1%-2% of low growth.
This is because our ultimate objective in pursuing growth is not in growth itself, but to create jobs in sufficient quantity and of good enough quality for our people to have better jobs, better wages and better careers.
Madam, with our local workforce growth slowing, it does not mean that we can afford to move slower too in our efforts to create jobs.
I will use 2015 as an illustration. Even though local employment went up by only 700, but the number of locals looking for jobs was many times higher than that. We must not forget that there were actually 190,000 new entries of young locals and re-entries of mature locals in that year alone. Many of them were not just looking for the same jobs vacated by those who have left employment. With better education and skills profile, they wanted better jobs to meet their higher expectations and aspirations. The same also applies to those who were already in the workforce. And I think this is good. This is also why we can never slow down.
To move faster, we have mobilised industry leaders, unions and economic agencies to create and re-create many more quality jobs in more than 20 sectors, as explained by Minister Lim Hng Kiang and Minister Iswaran. We have to make sure that this innovative growth of our future economy will also be an inclusive growth for all our people.
Madam, second, our policy on foreign manpower must be well balanced. At one extreme, if we try to make up for the drop in local labour force growth by taking in many more foreign workers, the pace of our restructuring will slow. Eventually, we will become overly reliant on foreign manpower, and our wages will also stagnate without productivity gain.
At the other extreme, if we tried to reduce the growth of foreign manpower to zero, zero local labour force growth plus zero foreign manpower growth will give us zero growth in total labour force. Our total labour force will eventually stagnate and if labour productivity growth continued to remain at the current level – then zero growth in local workforce, zero growth in foreign manpower plus zero growth in productivity as we have seen in recent years – it will give us zero growth in our GDP. Our economy will eventually stagnate too and we cannot obviously allow this to happen.
This is why we are transforming our industries for higher productivity gains. We need to move towards higher productivity gains. At the same time, we are adopting a balanced approach in managing the inflow of foreign manpower.
In response to Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Ms Foo Mee Har, the annual increase in foreign manpower has dropped significantly by more than two-thirds, from the last peak of 80,000 in 2011 to about 24,000 in the past two years. We are increasingly more selective in terms of qualifications and experience of the individual foreigners. At the same time, more importantly, to ensure that our people are treated fairly at all levels in all industries, we have included the adoption of fair and progressive HR practices as part of our Work Pass criteria.
This balanced approach will enable our combined workforce of locals and foreigners to complement each other better and compete more aggressively for good investments globally, such as the opening of Micron’s expanded facility here last month, as cited by Minister Iswaran. We need to compete and win many more of such good investments so that we can keep creating better quality growth for the economy and, more importantly, better quality jobs for our people.
Madam, third, we must minimise job-skill mismatches and maximise the connectivity between job opportunities and jobseekers.
In response to Mr Desmond Choo and Mr Liang Eng Hwa, we share their concern that we could see a higher number of layoffs than before, especially in sectors facing weak demand. We are doing more to help our workers in this period of economic transition in terms of training support, wage support, job search and career conversion.
In response to Mr Patrick Tay, Mr Ang Wei Neng, Mr Ang Hin Kee, Mr Christopher de Souza, Ms Jessica Tan and Mr Desmond Choo, we have stepped up job matching and career services with the introduction of the Adapt and Grow initiative this year.
In the first eight months of this year, Workforce Singapore and e2i have assisted 20,000 active jobseekers. More than 13,000 of them managed to find jobs in various sectors, including Infocomm Technology, Healthcare, Early Childhood Care and Education, Professional Services, Admin and Support, Biologics Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics, just to name the key ones.
The number of successful job placements is also much more than last year. For the PMETs, the number of PMETs who managed to secure jobs with our employment support went up by 45%; for the rank-and-file workers, it went up by 12%. In fact, of the 13,000 successful jobseekers, 45% of them, or 5,700, were PMETs and 55%, or 7,300, were rank-and-file workers. They came from various age groups – one in three were below 40 years old, one in four between 40 and 49 and 40%, or two in five, were aged 50 and above. In other words, we are helping not just the younger workers but also helping the middle-age as well as the mature workers to secure jobs.
We are doing more for the rank-and-file workers. We stepped up our Reskilling for Jobs initiative. We have also created more work trial programmes to help the rank-and-file workers to try out jobs which they may not be familiar or comfortable with. They try out the jobs first. After three months, after six months, then they decide whether to continue.
We are also doing much more for the PMETs. In response to Mr Melvin Yong, we rolled out 24 new Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) this year in 14 sectors, such as International Trade and Cyber security. We started the year with only 22 PCPs. By the end of this year, we will have more than 50 PCPs to help many more PMETs to convert to professions and industries with growth potential.
We have also provided extra support for mid-career PMETs aged 40 and above. We believe that they need the extra help. We are doing more for them, especially those who have been unemployed for more than six months. The Career Support Programme (CSP) was introduced a year ago to help them with wage support.
In response to the questions from Assoc Prof Daniel Goh, we are seeing a higher share of PMETs among residents made redundant. In fact, in the first half of this year, of the 5,700 locals retrenched, about 4,000 of them were PMETs. In other words, 70% of local retrenched workers were PMETs. We have, therefore, extended the CSP, since May this year, to two additional groups of PMETs.
Firstly, all PMETs made redundant aged 40 and above, even if they have been unemployed for less than six months, we waived the requirement for six months of unemployment. At the same time, we have also extended this CSP to all PMETs made redundant and unable to find jobs after six months, even if they are less than 40 years old. For the younger ones, likewise, we have waived the age requirement as well – after six months of unemployment.
Madam, job is the best welfare and full employment is the best protection for our people and our workers
Our efforts in industry transformation, as outlined by Minister Lim Hng Kiang and Minister Iswaran, will lead to better jobs and better careers. Our efforts through SkillsFuture will lead to better workers with deeper skills and newer skills. And with Adapt and Grow, the focus of MOM is to connect them better to each other – better jobs to better workers; better workers to better jobs.
The National Jobs Bank has been useful in helping our local jobseekers gain access to more jobs, especially PMET jobs. Today, about 180,000 registered users are gaining access to the Jobs Bank and about 25,700 employers have registered with the Jobs Bank. At any time, there are about 60,000 active jobs on our Jobs Bank looking for workers and every day we receive about 7,000 job applications.
In response to Dr Tan Wu Meng, we do not intend to make it mandatory for all companies to post all job vacancies on the Jobs Bank and to report all hiring outcomes to MOM, as suggested.
Instead, we will transform the National Jobs Bank into a one-stop and non-stop online marketplace. It will bring together employers, including those currently not advertising on Jobs Bank, to bring all their jobs onto this marketplace and to connect these employers and their jobs to active and passive jobseekers of all ages. Jobseekers will be able to explore new career opportunities and conduct job searches on their own through this online marketplace anytime, anywhere without having to wait for the next job fair. They can be young adults looking for their first jobs, mid-careers looking for their next careers, or mature workers looking to remain active.
In response to Mr Desmond Choo, for those who need advice on what jobs and careers to pursue, whether they are current jobseekers or what the Secretary-General of NTUC called "the future jobseekers" such as those vulnerable workers in industries facing poor prospects, we will leverage on the Skills Framework to help them more and to serve them better.
With the Skills Framework, jobseekers can clearly see what are the career paths, occupations, skills requirements and training programmes available to them in every major sector. The Skills Frameworks for Hotel and Accommodation Services, and Early Childhood Care and Education have already been launched.
If I may just share this with you, this is the Skills Framework for the Hotel sector. With this Skills Framework, you can see clearly there are four career paths for anyone to pursue – from front desk to housekeeping, to sales and marketing, to revenue management. I asked them what happened to the fifth path, F&B. They said that would be coming under the F&B Skills Framework. So, any jobseekers can see clearly these are the four plus one to come career paths they can pursue.
In here, they can see very clearly there are altogether 91 job functions they can apply for. And if they want to apply for any one of these 91 job functions, there are 291 job skillsets they can pursue. If they want to pursue any of those skillsets, there are more than 1,000 training programmes, all laid out in place for them to pursue.
This is how effective the Skills Framework is and will be in the future. We will be using the Skills Framework, sector by sector, to provide career coaching, counselling to jobseekers to help them discover for themselves which career, which job, which path is more suitable for them.
Last, but not least, even salary range is defined in here. So, you see the jobs ladder, the skills ladder as well as the salary ladder. And as I mentioned earlier, skills framework for two sectors has just been launched and more will come. Madam, in Mandarin, please.
(In Mandarin): Although local employment is still rising, the speed of growth has slowed down. With the trends of an ageing population and falling birth rates continuing, local employment will peak and stop growing after 10 years.
If we do not adjust our strategy and continue to increase jobs by large numbers, most of the added jobs will be undertaken by foreign employees. This will do more harm than good to our country and people. Hence, the challenge we face in terms of job-creation is no longer the more jobs the better, but the more the better jobs, the better.
Short-term pains are better than long-term pains. What we are facing now is a slowing economy and a rising redundancy rate. This is the price we have to pay as the result of economic transformation in a weak global economy. This is unavoidable.
I urge everyone to face this challenge together and persevere. We must make sure that the current difficulties are only short-term transitional pains, and not allow them to develop into long-term pains of the New Normal.
We must assure our SMEs and do our best to help them transform.
More importantly, we must assure our workers and do our best to help them learn new skills and adapt to new jobs.
Let us work together and quicken our steps to walk out of this transitional period as fast as we can, and achieve better and more sustainable economic growth. This way everyone will have better jobs, remuneration and career. Let us work hard together!
(In English): Madam, in conclusion, as we enter the next stage towards 2%-3% quality growth, I assure our fellow Singaporeans that the tripartite partners are doing our very best for them, at the national level as well as at the sectoral level.
We need our businesses to do their part, to transform and grow. At the same time, we need our people to do their part too, to adapt and grow.
Last time round, during the global financial crisis, we cut costs together, we saved jobs together, we upturned the downturn together. This time round, our challenge is to transform together, adapt together, so that we can all grow together. Working together, I believe that we can succeed once again.
Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan (West Coast): I thank the Minister, for a very comprehensive bilingual response. I have three questions in the area of strengthening the Singaporean Core, mature PMETs and employment growth.
The first question on strengthening the Singaporean Core. As you know, last year's record number of local resident retrenchment and layoff made up 71% of the total. This year, I expect another round of record retrenchments and also PMETs would form the bulk, at least about 70% for those laid off. In our efforts to strengthen the Singaporean Core, perhaps the Minister can give an update on what efforts are being done in the Fair Consideration Framework as well as identifying the "triple weaks" and handling those to level the playing field for local PMEs.
On the second question about mature PMETs, anecdotally, we still hear of mature PMETs in their 40s and 50s facing challenges in their job search, even when they do relevant training in growth areas, growth sectors. They feel challenged; sometimes, it could be ageism; sometimes, it could be mindset. Can MOM, together with our tripartite partners, do even more and do even better in this area?
Finally, in terms of employment growth, the Minister has shared that employment growth has dropped sharply. With the exodus of the baby boomers in the coming years and also lower fertility rate and the slower entrance of new workers, does MOM foresee that in the longer term, five or 10 years' time, we are able to sustain that one third to two thirds local to foreign manpower ratio? Whether it is possible to sustain that?
Mr Lim Swee Say: Mdm Speaker, first, on Fair Consideration Framework, in February this year, we identified 100 companies that we considered as being "triple weak". We subjected their EP applications to closer scrutiny. In the last six months, the TAFEP has been working very closely with them to improve their HR practices.
Of the 100 companies, about 20%, or one in five, responded by taking part in our job fairs and stepping up training for the locals. Some even have knowledge transfer programmes for the locals. For this one fifth of companies, at the recommendation of TAFEP, we have decided to remove them from the watch-list because their HR practices are now on par with the industry standard.
For the remaining 80%, even though many of them have made some improvements, we think that a lot more can be done. We will continue to monitor them. Among them, right now, there are about 300 EP applications still being closely scrutinised, until we are convinced that they have met our fair consideration requirement.
At the same time, we will continue to identify more of these "triple weak" companies. So far, we have identified another 180 of them. If we put 180 plus the 80% of the 100, we now have altogether about 250 companies on our watch-list. The whole purpose is not to punish them, but rather to work with them, to engage them, to enhance the HR practices, to give our Singaporeans a fair consideration.
On the second point about can we do more for the mature PMETs, I would say, certainly, yes. We are setting up our effort. Earlier, I talked about expanding PCP from 22 programmes to at least 50 by the end of this year. More importantly, we are working with more and more companies to open up their job openings to mature workers and to those on the Profession Conversion Programme.
What we are doing now is, whenever we organise a job fair, whether it is a virtual job fair or a physical job fair, the employers will indicate whether they are prepared to take in mature workers for a particular job under CSP or take in workers who are not job ready but are prepared to go for job conversion under PCP. In most cases, it is for both.
Our intention is to keep growing the list of employers who are prepared to open up more of their jobs under PCP and CSP. In time to come, when the online marketplace is ready, we hope to have a pavilion specially for the matured workers, either on conversion or mid-career switch.
The third question about whether we are able to sustain the one-third to two-thirds ratio of local to foreign manpower ratio, right now, we are still about there. Looking ahead, the next five to 10 years, whether we will be able to sustain the one-third to two-thirds ratio? I would say the key consideration is productivity gain. If we are able to strive for the 2%-3% productivity gain, then the pressure on increasing the total workforce would be less. Therefore, I am not able to give you any projection. But I would say that for now and in the near future, let us focus and apply our mind to innovation and productivity because that is the most sustainable way for us to sustain our growth in the long term without becoming overly dependent on foreign manpower.
Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio): Recently, I attended a job fair organised e2i at one of the communities. I noticed that employers who place jobs were familiar employers. They have been active before. They have adopted the suite of programmes the Minister recommended. I would like to ask the Minister to give an assessment about the other late majority, other employers who have placed jobs in the Jobs Bank, but have not come out very actively, participate in job fairs. How do we, therefore, nudge them to be more proactive in placing locals and adopting the suite of programmes that he mentioned earlier?
Mr Lim Swee Say: Madam, for the job fairs at the community level, I would not be surprised if you keep seeing about the same faces. Because for our job fairs in the community, we try to reach out to employers where the jobs are nearby in the community. Since the companies do not move in and out of communities too quickly, as a result, you are likely to see more of the familiar faces.
Having said that, I do share Mr Ang's concern which is whether we can keep encouraging more and more companies to step forward, to open up the jobs to our locals. I am happy to say that we are seeing that. For example, in the hotel sector, they have 2,000 vacancies, and 40%, 800 of them, are PMET jobs.
We have good jobs. The companies are all very keen to look for local workers. As I mentioned, our key challenge is how to connect them better. We will continue to organise more and more job fairs. At the same time, we want to evolve towards this online marketplace as quickly as possible.
Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast): Madam, the pain and anxiety felt by individuals and families affected by job losses is probable. Disruptions in the current job market are intensifying, impacting even the highly trained and younger PMEs. I urge the Minister to put in place measures that give Singaporeans a leg up. Specifically, two supplementary questions for the Minister.
First, whether the Minister will adjust the Employment Pass scheme such that Singaporeans with the necessary skills and experience are provided with the opportunities to be considered first for vacancies? Second, whether the Minister will consider providing incentives to employers to retain Singaporeans over Employment Pass holders during a retrenchment exercise, for example, widening the Career Support Programme so that employers can assess them to keep Singaporeans employed, rather than wait for them to be retrenched, keep them employed as they restructure their businesses?
Mr Lim Swee Say: Mdm Speaker, the first question about EP, whether we can adopt the policy of a Singaporean first, in processing an EP application. I am hesitant about this. If I may go back to the example highlighted by Mr Iswaran. Micron has just opened their expanded facility at an investment of a few billion dollars. For that facility which comes with such heavy investment, they need to have a few hundred PMETs to keep the place running non-stop. If MOM were to come in and say, "You have to keep recruiting Singaporeans first until no more Singaporeans would take the jobs before you allow foreigners to take on these jobs", my worry is that if we have that reputation, Singaporeans first reputation, eventually, EDB, MTI, all our agencies will have problems competing for the best investments in the world.
Let me also put it this way. If you look at the EP and at the PMET levels, a vast majority of PMETs in Singapore are local. Many years from now, we will still have EPs in our workforce. I have illustrated earlier to you that our local workforce growth is slowing down. So, we do need to continue to have foreigners.
Having EP in our system is not a bad thing. But what is bad is if it leads to unfair consideration for the locals. What we are doing is to tighten the EP criteria to maximise the complementarity between EP and the locals. I would say that the best way for us to help the locals is to focus on enhancing their employability. This is something we have been doing.
The other point is about retrenchment ‒ whether we can provide incentives for companies to retain locals. The answer is, yes. We already do that. For companies which retain their locals, we provide a lot of support to them. Let me give a simple example.
Earlier, in the COS this year, I announced that we have extended the PCP to in-house PCP. In other words, PMETs instead of being retrenched, if the company is able to redeploy them within the company, we will support them with the PCP. Under the PCP, during the retraining period of up to a maximum of 18 to 24 months, we subsidise their wages and training programme. These are things we are already doing.
On the whole, I just want to caution that, firstly, retrenchment is not by individual. Retrenchment is by an operation. Earlier, we talked about a company transferring its R&D operations out of Singapore. The whole team will be affected, whether you are local, EP, the entire operation will be affected. Secondly, at the PMET level, the local PMETs outnumber the foreign PMETs in most cases. That is why we are concerned that we will see more local PMETs being affected. That is the reason why I mentioned earlier we are going to do a lot more to help them to adapt and grow again.
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong (Non-Constituency Member): Mdm Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister this. The CSP is obviously a very useful programme for all PMETs. I am wondering why restrict the access to the CSP for younger PMETs under 40 years old to only those who are at least unemployed for six months. Why not open CSP to all PMETs regardless of age?
Mr Lim Swee Say: Madam, we are trying to help all PMETs. In helping them, we recognise that some PMETs may need more help than the others. We have observed that the mature PMETs face more challenges. I will give a simple example. For the mature PMETs, many of them have been working in the industry for 10, 20 years, their wages are higher. When they are affected by redundancy, when they move on to another company, to command similar level of salary is always a big challenge. As a result, the pay cut that the mature PMETs have to take is normally higher than the younger PMETs.
The purpose of the CSP is to minimise the wage cut. For example, if a PMET is earning between $4,000 and $7,000, under the CSP, we subsidise their wages for the first one year. Our intention is to help these mature PMETs to move to a new company with a new employer, hopefully, without having to suffer too severe a pay cut. The same may not necessarily apply to the younger PMETs.
Here, it is not a case of giving less support to the younger PMETs, but rather giving more support to the mature PMETs.
Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong): I thank the Minister for his answer and especially the proposal for an online jobs marketplace that is one-stop and non-stop. But the strength of a marketplace is also in its centrality. Will there be incentives for employers across the board to join in, to take part, to make sure that marketplace is the centre of gravity among the many competing job portals also in the private sector. So that we can have a best source of jobs, best-sourcing of opportunities; a marketplace that is ‒ if I may say ‒ bigger, deeper, better?
Mr Lim Swee Say: Mdm Speaker, I agree with the Member Dr Tan Wu Meng. Our challenge is to make sure that the online marketplace will be attractive to both the employers as well as the jobseekers. For the employers, those applying for EPs, they will have to go to the National Jobs Bank. For them, their presence in marketplace will be mandatory, through the National Jobs Bank.
For those where the jobs are meant for locals, our aim is to make the online marketplace so attractive that many of them will come on to the marketplace on a voluntary basis. We believe that, as Dr Tan mentioned, if we can make this marketplace a vibrant one, a comprehensive one, more and more employers should want to come onboard because it would be easier for them to look for the right workers.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah): Mdm Speaker, in our MPS cases, we always hear sad cases of employees who are quite skilled and have high abilities being retrenched and losing their jobs. I would like to ask the Minister, as we scale up the PCPs and the CSP, can particular emphasis be given to how we can preserve the skills or if not, preserve the abilities. They may have rich experience and so on, so how do we preserve these? This is so that as a whole, our human capital is preserved and retained so that we can use them to the best to grow our economy.
Mr Lim Swee Say: Mdm Speaker, I think Mr Liang touched on a very important point. In professional conversion, the last thing we want to do is to see a person giving up all the years of experience, expertise and skills. Therefore, our priority in helping the middle career PMETs is through P-Max, which helps to match PMETs to the SMEs.
P-Max is functioning very well. The response from the SMEs is encouraging. At the same time, we are also seeing more and more of the mature PMETs willing now to explore opportunities in the SME sector.
P-Max is our way to help the SMEs to tap on the skills and experience of the mature PMETs and vice versa.
On top of that, another area which we are now exploring is that for mature PMETs with many years of skills, experience and expertise, we think that the private placement companies may also be of great help to them. We have started trying out the services of the private placement companies. We are now in the process of scaling them up, so in the near future, you will hear us announcing a partnership programme with the private placement community to help middle to senior levels of PMETs to pursue job openings in a more effective way.