NTUC Supports Forward Singapore’s Commitment to Create More Opportunities for Singaporeans to Chart Own Paths; Provide Assurance for Every Life Stage

27 Oct 2023
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Key policy shifts outlined in Forward Singapore Report released today synonymous with strategic focus areas set out as part of NTUC’s refreshed compact with workers

As the voice of workers in Singapore, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) stands in support of the Forward Singapore (Forward SG) report launched by the Government today. Notably, key insights and recommendations arising from NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations (#EWMC) had been considered and contributed towards several policy shifts outlined in the Forward SG Report, specifically in the areas of targeted support for involuntarily unemployed jobseekers; training allowances for mature mid-career workers to build deep skills; and encouraging more employers to introduce workplace support for caregivers.

On 29 September 2023, NTUC had outlined strategic priorities in championing the interests of key worker groups of youth, mid-career workers, caregivers, older workers and vulnerable workers as part of the refreshed workers’ compact. Through a dialogue held on the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong acknowledged the important role that NTUC plays, and emphasised collective commitment by both the Government and NTUC to help our workers adjust, reskill, upskill and be able to go through multiple transitions throughout their careers. NTUC is heartened on the Government’s commitment to working with us in realising the workers’ compact, recognising that workers form an integral component of the new social compact.

Through #EWMC, workers have voiced their needs for autonomy in work and life decisions; adaptability in an open economy; and assurance for challenges faced in life. Thus, NTUC supports the Government’s commitment to creating more opportunities for Singaporeans to chart their own path, provide more assurance for Singaporeans to ensure they are taken care of at every life stage, and its call for collective responsibility. These aspirations reflect a shared vision of an inclusive, supportive and united Singapore, and we are committed to working collaboratively with the government, unions, businesses, and civil society in ensuring the well-being and prosperity of our citizens.

Championing workers’ interests in the refreshed social compact

Through #EWMC, NTUC released a set of 10 recommendations as we embark on a new phase of championing workers’ rights and interests. Aligned with key shifts outlined in the Forward SG Report, the following #EWMC recommendations have been taken on board:

Embracing Learning Beyond Grades
NTUC is happy to note Forward SG Report’s recommendations for support for Singaporeans who already have a publicly-funded diploma or higher qualification to obtain another publicly-funded diploma qualification; and training allowances for mature mid-career Singaporeans so that they can have some financial support when they take time off for training, in line with #EWMC recommendations. NTUC believes these initiatives will go a long way in empowering Singaporeans to acquire multiple deep skillsets over their lifetimes and stands ready to work with Government partners such as SkillsFuture Singapore, to make this a reality.

Respecting and Rewarding Every Job
The Forward SG Report states a commitment to further reduce wage gaps across professions. NTUC will continue to work with the Government and employers to strengthen the Progressive Wage Model and review the Local Qualifying Salary to uplift lower-wage workers, and also work closely with the Ministry of Manpower to explore the professionalisation of skilled trades through the Career Progression Model.

The Report also highlights for better support for job transitions in the form of providing short-term financial support to the involuntarily unemployed. Since 2014, NTUC has called for the Government to provide short-term financial support to workers who experience involuntary unemployment, conditional on their active engagement in reskilling or job search efforts. Our experience in income relief schemes places us well to administer this support scheme, and our established Training and Placement ecosystem can complement the need for job seekers to acquire new skills and be matched to jobs.

Supporting Families through Every Stage
NTUC will continue to work with the Government particularly on encouraging more employers to introduce workplace support for caregivers, such as providing caregiver leave to employees. Aligned with other recommendations in the Forward SG Report, we will also build on ongoing tripartite initiatives to help more employers implement flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and make FWAs more prevalent.

NTUC is heartened that the Government is taking steps to study suggestions to support caregivers with work responsibilities, of which caregiver leave is one suggestion mooted by NTUC through #EWMC. NTUC will continue to advocate for stronger support for workers with caregiving responsibilities for young and/or elderly dependents.

Enabling Seniors to Age Well
The Forward SG Report gave the assurance that all Singaporeans who work and contribute to their CPF consistently should be able to meet their basic retirement needs through CPF payouts after they retire. In addition, NTUC strongly believes that efforts to ensure workplaces are made age-inclusive for older workers, should press on. This can be done through initiatives such as micro-jobs, job redesign and making training opportunities readily available to enhance older workers’ employability.

Investing in Our Shared Tomorrow
As part of #EWMC, NTUC conducted several sessions to engage union leaders and workers on the Green Transition. NTUC recognises that with climate change and the burgeoning impetus for the green transition, these trends may pose both opportunities and threats to existing jobs. We are encouraged by the Government’s efforts to build up Singapore’s climate resilience, and believe that tripartite collaboration will play a critical role in helping to shape just transition policies to safeguard workers' rights as Singapore transitions to a Green Economy.

Taking Action With Workers, For Workers

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said, “Today, the Government and tripartite partners, including NTUC, are reaffirming our promise to create a better future for all in Singapore. For workers, NTUC will stay true to our decades-long mission of protecting their wages, welfare and work prospects – and in doing so, we resolutely commit to being an active voice for our workers. We will keep a close watch to ensure that no worker groups get left behind. At the same time, all of us have important parts to play to create a shared future that we all can look forward to. I call on all heads, hearts and hands in collective action to build better lives and livelihoods for all.”

Moving forward, NTUC will press on our efforts to champion the interests of youth, mid-career workers, caregivers, older workers and vulnerable workers, aligned with the renewed workers’ compact. In addition to areas outlined in the Forward SG Report, NTUC will also delve into supporting youths in their transition from school to work, and stronger and better representation for Self-Employed Persons.
To read the full #EWMC report, please visit https://conversations.ntuc.sg/.

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