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HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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NTUC urges Singapore to support ‘returnship programme' for women workers

The group also calls for improved productivity schemes ahead the Budget 2017.

Ahead of the Budget 2017, the National Trade Union Congress calls for the Singapore government to endeavour a labour force that is competitive. One such proposal is for the government to support women looking to re-enter the workforce.

"Targeted support to help back-to-work women could come in the form of a 'Returnship Programme' that the Government can fund, with pilot programmes in sectors such as Early Childhood & Social Services. The existing Work-Life Grant could be enhanced, to enable companies that offer the programme and progressive workplace practices such as flexible work arrangements, to tap on the Grant, NTUC said.

This is included in one of the four key areas included in NTUC’s recommendations for Budget 2017. Another key area is the placement to address cyclical and structural unemployment.

"To do so, we need to be more informed on the necessary skills required. This will enable us to customise training programmes, and design them in a modular fashion so that it makes it easier for working people to acquire relevant skills," the group said.

One way for this to happen, NTUC argued, it for the government to work with the Labour Movement’s Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST) capability and e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) on cross-sharing of Jobs Bank information.

"Both parties can collaborate to identify new skills and translate this to training requirements, by working with Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and private institutions to hasten rollout of such training programmes, thus enabling workers to better prepare themselves for jobs of tomorrow."

The group also called for more productivity schemes to unleash the potential of workers. One of the proposal for this key area is for the government to take the lead as fair and responsible buyers of outsourced services like cleaning, security and landscaping as an example for the private sector. More so, it argued that schemes can be enhanced with sector-level projects and resource-pooling amongst companies. Special emphasis to be placed in sectors such as F&B, Retail and Construction.

Additionally, it wants the government to provide better support for workers afflicted by workplace injuries such as the development of a case management system.

Lastly, NTUC said there is a need for protection for workers in new forms of employment by enhancing the Government Procurement Act to improve procurement practices for outsourced services.

"Given the changing employment models, we need to ensure that workers can continue to enjoy fair work terms. There is a need to examine how laws can better protect the interests of working people on non-traditional work arrangements, such as contract workers and freelancers. The welfare of low-wage workers and outsourced workers must similarly be protected," it said.

Apart from this, NTUC noted the importance of Tripartism to evolve and deepen at the sectoral level, which will sustain it as a competitive advantage for Singapore’s continued success.

"In this aspect, the Labour Movement calls on Government agencies to institutionalise staff exchanges and cross-learning between the Civil Service, the Labour Movement and the Singapore National Employers Federation, to strengthen mutual understanding and trust amongst the future generation of tripartite leaders," it said.

 

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