S$3m set aside for professional bodies to attract PMEs

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SINGAPORE — In its latest push to reach out to more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), the labour movement has set aside a S$3 million kitty for professional bodies that are members of its U Associate programme to expand their membership base.

The grant, which will be disbursed over three years, can also be used to support PMEs with professional development, employment upgrading and employability enhancement.

The U Associate programme was started in 2011 to foster a closer working relationship with professional bodies and better serve the needs of PMEs.

Speaking at the inaugural U Association Conference today (Jan 28), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Lim Swee Say said that while the current tripartite framework is adequate for rank-and-file workers, the scope for looking after the interests of PMEs can be expanded.

The labour movement currently represents about 285,000 PMEs in the workforce and last year said it is targeting to gain about 85,000 more PME members this year. The Industrial Relations Act was also recently changed to allow PMEs to be represented by rank-and-file unions.

Addressing more than 500 PMEs at the conference, Mr Lim said the NTUC has three goals for their group: Helping young PMEs get good first jobs to kick-start their careers, ensuring working PMEs have fair treatment and good career advancement, and ensuring mature PMEs do not face age discrimination at the workplace.

NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, which conducts job-matching, sees one in two job seekers who are PME, indicating that they too are affected by economic restructuring and changes at the workplace, Mr Lim noted.

“Given that this is the situation, we as a labour movement ask ourselves what more we can do for our PME workforce as they grow in number (and) as more of them face the problem of employment and employability,” he said. “We believe the tripartism in Singapore can be even more effective if we can find ways to bring in these professional bodies to be part of the tripartite framework.”

The U Associate programme spans professional fields including information technology, engineering and financial planners, with partners such as the Institute of Estate Agents, Sing­apore Human Resources Institute and Singapore School Transport Association.

Two new professional bodies — the Singapore Chapter for the global Project Management Institute and the Financial Planning Association of Singapore — also joined U Associate as partners at the convention yesterday, bringing the total number up to 12. The NTUC’s aim is to raise the membership to 20 by this year.

Adding that this was only the beginning of NTUC’s partnerships, Mr Lim said resources should not be a limiting factor for future opportunities for partnerships.

Funding for the U Associate Grant will be from the S$50 million NTUC 50 Development Fund that the NTUC raised with the help of a matching grant from the government. The development fund was intended to support initiatives that will help make the labour movement more effective, innovative and dynamic.

news source & image credits: todayonline.com

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