Speech by Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah
at the “Rethink Your People Strategy for the Future Economy” Seminar
24 October 2017
Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs
Mr Stephen Yee, Assistant Executive Director, Singapore National Employers Federation
Mr Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive, Workforce Singapore
It is a great pleasure to join you this morning at the inaugural Professional Services seminar, which is themed 'Rethink Your People Strategy for the Future Economy’.
Connecting PMETs to jobs in the 5 Priority Sectors
- It is really important because economic conditions and technology have changed the job market. New opportunities are emerging while old jobs are evolving. In the process, there are PMETs who have been displaced. Some have been able to find new jobs quickly, but some have not.
- And it is for this reason, that the Government is making a concerted effort to help PMETs who have been displaced and are actively seeking employment. This was announced in July this year by Minister for Manpower, Mr Lim Swee Say. And the overall effort is being led and coordinated by Second Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo. And the effort is supported by various Senior Ministers of State, e.g. Amy is looking at the Healthcare sector, Poh Koon is looking after the manufacturing side. I’m looking at professional services. And so you can see that each of us has a different sector, and it’s being coordinated overall by MOM.
Professional Services Sector – A key pillar of Singapore’s economy
- The Professional Services sector, comprising a diverse mix of many sub-sectors, including; Accounting, Consulting, Advertising, Design, Legal and Architecture and Engineering Services, and these are experiencing strong growth. The sector has grown into a key pillar of Singapore’s economy. In 2015, it contributed a total output of $25 billion – that’s amounting to 6.4% of the GDP of Singapore.
So as businesses seek to explore Asia’s growth markets, the professional services sector is going to play an important role in helping to support growth of the economy. This will create new and exciting opportunities. The sector employment has grown 5 per cent per year on average from 2011 to 2015, with a stable rate that caters to local market needs.
Challenges due to digital and technological disruptions
- At the same time though, there are challenges. Singapore’s labour market faces increased global competition and some challenging times ahead, where technology disruption would cause jobs to evolve at a faster pace, resulting in higher unemployment due to mismatch of workers’ current skills with those required by new job roles.
- Digital and technological disruptions also change the future of work. Over the last few years, a stream of innovation in technology and digital business models have started to disrupt markets and challenge established way of doing things. This will inevitably impact on sub-sectors within professional services such as accounting, advertising, consulting and legal services. Companies will need to adapt to new accounting standards, they need to embrace hybrid business models or meet new compliance requirements. Along with this, technology will change the way organisations work and how they deliver their products and services to clients.
- So for example, in the advertising sector, clients are shifting towards advertising in the digital realm and social media. Traditional media is giving way to digital media and advertising firms need to acquire digital skills. New digital and design job roles such as in programmatic advertising, creative technologies, UX and UI are created and companies are actively looking to recruit individuals with skillsets in these areas, or to retrain their existing workforce to address these skills gaps.
- Therefore, it would be win-win for both employers and the workforce if we can help our workforce to be reskilled; they’re going to have to unlearn and relearn new skills and knowledge to use technology and handle new processes. As enterprises transform and grow, they will require talent to sustain their growth. If we can ramp up our efforts to help workers adapt and grow, the workers will be able to benefit from the new job opportunities being created and at the same time address the talent needs of the companies. And that is why it is so important that companies partner with us to develop quality talent and to enable these individuals to have fulfilling careers.
Adapt and Grow Initiative to maximise and build a pipeline of local talent
- And this is where the Government has been intervening and stepping in. and so let me tell you a little bit about the Adapt and Grow initiative. What they’ve done is – you need to see how, as the name suggests, we can get workers to adapt and grow with their companies.
- The Professional Conversion Programmes, or PCP in short, under Workforce Singapore’s Adapt and Grow Initiative, encourages employers to hire and reskill mid-careerists, or mid-career professionals, who bring with them a wealth of experience. So if somebody has been displaced from their job – they may not be able to continue in the same job, but don’t forget that person has many years of working experience. So they may not be able to fit in immediately into the new job, but they bring with them years of experience in communication, in dealing with people, and these are portable skills. This is something which employers see as an asset, and then you look at the individual and see how you can retrain the individual for specific skillsets in their career, but also leverage on existing skills that the person brings from his work experience. And this is especially useful for companies in high growth industries such as professional services.
- One example is Affluence PR Pte Ltd, a public relations agency. They had difficulty recruiting the right people with digital skills as this skillset was in high demand and individuals with such expertise were very much sought-after. Through the PCP for Digital Advertising Professionals, Affluence PR hired 40-year old Maria Chow, who was previously a marketing manager at an office supplies firm. Maria was sent for training in digital marketing, creative strategies, coding etc, and together with on-the-job training, she picked up the skills required for her new role. I am heartened to see that Maria has been given the opportunity to make a career switch into a growing sector despite not initially having the relevant skills. And I am happy for Affluence PR as well, because they are benefitting from Maria’s extensive marketing experience.
- Today, there are over 10 PCPs for the Professional Services sector in a wide array of job areas, such as System Integration Engineers, Manufacturing Associates, Graphic Designers, Intellectual Property Professionals, Digital Advertising Professionals, Global Ready Infrastructure Talents, as well as for Broad-based Professional Executives, just to name a few. These PCPs help mid-career PMETs to make a career switch into these various sub-sectors within professional services, even if they don’t have the relevant sector experience. Many already have transferable skills, or experience and knowledge in either the same or adjacent industry. They may not be perfect matches, but most of them have at least 70 – 80 percent fit, which is already very helpful.
- Together with the Ministry of Manpower, Workforce Singapore, the Economic Development Board and other sector agencies, my workgroup will be looking at three main aspects to help PMETs access the jobs that are available:
- First, it is very important to get the right information to the right people. For some jobseekers, once they have the relevant information, they can pursue the opportunities themselves. They just need to know where to go, where to look. Once you provide the information, then they will just do the work themselves.
- The other thing is to address the gaps in supply and demand. Sometimes the job may be available, but for some reason the jobseeker does not have the right skills or experience to land that particular job. The key then is helping the jobseeker to bridge the gap - whether by way of PCPs, training and internships, or some other way. For this, employers too must be on board. They must be willing to give older jobseekers and PMETs who are re-skilling themselves, a chance. This is not a one-way street because we must also recognise the value that older workers can bring, due to their past experience, as I had mentioned earlier.
- And the third strand is connecting the right persons with the right jobs. As all of us that have dealt with HR know, job matching is not a mechanical process. Nor is it just a matter of paper qualifications. There are a lot of important variables in a good job fit. From the employer's perspective, this includes things like the applicant's personality, personal experience, ability to fit into the team, and willingness to learn. From the individual's perspective, this will include things like the corporate culture, job fulfilment, whether the job expands his or her horizons, and how the job may impact his or her family life. So we will be looking at how we can help people get matched to the jobs that they are best suited for more effectively. For employers or individuals who need help but are unsure of where to start, I urge you to visit WSG’s Careers Connect and tap on their career matching services.
- The Government will continue to support companies’ hiring needs, while companies should remain open to hiring experienced workers. As the economy continues to restructure, we will continue to work closely with companies to understand your needs and your hiring challenges. This will help us to tailor our programmes and interventions in improving jobseekers’ employability. In my engagements, I have heard very positive feedback of mature workers contributing their experience and expertise to new firms when they are given the opportunity. So do remember – sometimes old is gold.
- I hope that today’s event will allow all of you to learn more about how you can develop a sustainable talent strategy, invest in human capital to address new skills needs, and expand your hiring horizons.
Thank you all very much.