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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on distribution of new opportunities and job roles from automation

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1392 OF 2018 FOR THE SITTING ON 19 NOVEMBER 2018

QUESTION NO. 2337 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Mr Saktiandi Supaat


To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is being done to ensure that the new opportunities and job roles brought about by automation will be equally distributed across all affected workers; (b) whether there are plans for the Government to partner private companies to develop more training programmes to help affected industries make the transition; and (c) how many people have upskilled themselves in the past three years tapping on the Government schemes.

Answer

  1. Technology is quickening the pace of restructuring and transformation in every sector. To remain relevant, businesses and workers have to be agile, and take full advantage of the opportunities that technology brings. This includes implementing automation solutions where useful to improve productivity, overcome manpower shortages and expand growth potential.
  2. The Government supports these efforts through a broad range of programmes, many of which also help to equip existing workers to effectively handle the new technologies implemented by their employers. With improved productivity, there has also been broad-based wage growth benefitting many workers. From 2012 to 2017, the real income of full-time employed Singaporeans rose by 3.9% per annum at the median and 4.3% at the 20th percentile.
  3. We recognise that some workers may be displaced as a result of restructuring. Through the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) offer employment facilitation services such as career coaching, employability workshops, job fairs and job matching. These initiatives help jobseekers get back to work and have opportunities to progress further. Supported by robust job creation in the economy, unemployment rates have remained low while employment levels remained high.
  4. Under A&G, there are now over 100 Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) in over 30 sectors and around 50 other Place-and-Train (PnT) programmes that provide wage and training support for employers to re-train workers to take up new jobs or move into sectors with better job prospects. Since 2016, more than 11,600 individuals have been placed in new jobs or careers through PCP and PnT programmes.
  5. Where possible, we intervene upstream before workers are retrenched. Sector agencies closely monitor industry developments and work with WSG to help companies reskill their workers to meet emerging needs. For example, with MAS’s support, WSG and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) developed the PCP for Consumer Banking to re-skill about 3,000 PMETs over the next two years. This will enable bank employees such as those in bank teller and operational roles to be redeployed to new functions such as digital marketing and relationship management, instead of being retrenched. For the Information and Communication Technology sector, WSG is working with HP Singapore and the Institute of Systems Science (ISS) to re-skill existing employees through the PCP for Data Analysts. This will enable employees, such as those in procurement and sourcing, to use data analytics to improve operations efficiency and stay relevant to their employers. Such programmes demonstrate how workers affected by business transformation can also gain from the new job opportunities created.
  6. In addition to WSG’s efforts to help displaced and at-risk workers, a wide range of SkillsFuture programmes is also available to help our workforce deal with disruptions in the economy. For example, under the SkillsFuture Series, our Institutes of Higher Learning have launched various training programmes in eight emerging and priority domain areas including Advanced Manufacturing, Data Analytics, and Urban Solutions, that will help equip our workforce with the skills needed for jobs in the future economy. Training is heavily subsidised with enhanced funding support for mid-career individuals, low-wage workers and employees of SMEs. Many of them are delivered with private sector partners. Where appropriate, such partnerships will continue to be pursued.
  7. We are encouraged that our workers have been upskilling themselves through training and upgrading, with the training participation rate for the resident labour force increasing from 35% in 2015 to 48% in 2017. The number of participants in MOE/SSG-funded training programmes increased from 360,000 in 2015 to 430,000 in 2017.