With certain industries hit harder in the current cloudy economic conditions, the labour movement is hoping to help retrenched workers pick out possible jobs in sectors that continue to show good growth prospects, such as Internet security and sustainable energy.
Under the new Pivot programme, volunteers from resilient or sunrise industries seek to provide emotional support for displaced white-collar workers, on top of sharing advice on their sectors.
Industry talks and workshops on resume-writing and interview techniques to boost employability will also be held for these professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and those seeking a mid-career switch.
Launched yesterday by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Pivot builds on the Career Activation Programme introduced in 2015, which sought to give peer support to older workers who have been out of a job for a long period.
The new initiative comes amid rising concerns over the gloomy economic outlook, with industries that are particularly hit, such as the banking as well as oil and gas sectors, slashing jobs and imposing a hiring freeze.
Advance figures on the labour market in 2016 released in January by the Ministry of Manpower showed that employment last year grew at its slowest pace since 2003, while income growth went down. The annual average unemployment rate also rose to its highest last year since 2010, at 2.1 per cent overall.
“We are targeting the groups of professionals who are facing the challenge of dealing with the disruption within their sector,” said NTUC’s assistant director-general Vivek Kumar.
“They could either be displaced already or are feeling that they are going to be displaced.”
The Pivot programme is spearheaded by the NTUC U Associate and the U PME Centre as well as the Employment and Employability Institute. It now has more than 60 volunteers on board, hailing from 16 different industries.
These volunteers, who are also part of the NTUC U Associate network, have undergone communication skills training at the Singapore Psychological Society.
Mr Alex Chua, managing director of Charisma Academy, which provides courses on presentation and leadership skills, said building up the confidence of displaced workers is the first step to help them re-enter the workforce.
As one of the volunteers on board the Pivot programme, Mr Chua said he can relate to the anxieties that they face, after having spent three months helping his friend, who was retrenched from the manufacturing sector last year, to get a job.
Using his industry contacts, Mr Chua, who is also the president of the Singapore Sales Professional Association, helped to narrow down the companies which would fit his friend’s working experience.
On top of that, he also taught his friend some interview techniques and to dress confidently. At the same time, Mr Chua also advised his friend to moderate his expectations as he would not likely be offered the same role or salary.
As a result of his efforts, his friend managed to land a job as an account manager at a local tech firm and accepted a 40 per cent pay cut.
Having undergone such an experience coupled with industry contacts and expertise, Mr Chua noted that he would be in a better position to counsel those who have been displaced.
“All they need is a bit of a push to get them back into the journey,” he added. At the programme’s launch event yesterday, seven organisations including the Singapore FinTech Association and the Singapore Institute of Aerospace Engineers, also signed agreements to come on board the U Associate, which will now have 58 groups. By Faris Mokhtar
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.
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