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Oral Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Questions on PMET retrenchments

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1620 and 1622 OF 2019 FOR A SITTING ON 1 APR 2019 

QUESTION NO. 2742 and 2754 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the Ministry has investigated the reasons for PMETs making up 75.8% of retrenchments in 2018; (b) which sectors have been most affected by the PMET retrenchments; and (c) how many of these PMETs have received retrenchment benefits and what has been the average compensation received.

MP: Mr Ang Wei Neng

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) how can retrenched professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are Singaporeans be better helped to find jobs when 76% of retrenched workers in 2018 are PMETs even though the PMET share of job vacancies has risen to 53% in the same year; and (b) whether the Ministry foresees a worsening structural unemployment in 2019.

Answer

1. In 2018, about 5,400 local PMETs were retrenched, the lowest level since 2014.  This took place against a backdrop of local PMET employment growth of about 34,000.  The resident long-term unemployment (LTU) rate for PMETs, an indicator of structural unemployment, remained low at 0.8%.  At present, there are also about 31,500 vacancies for PMETs. Higher level than the best few years.

2. To ensure retrenched workers receive timely employment support, companies are required to notify the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation led by Workforce Singapore (WSG) of retrenchments. Based on the 2017 survey on retrenchment benefits, around 90% of retrenching establishments paid retrenchment benefits to their workers, slightly higher than in 2016. Among them, more than 70% paid retrenchment benefits of at least 2 weeks of salary per year of service, as recommended in the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment. This was up from around 60% in 2016.

3. Nearly two-thirds of PMET retrenchments in 2018 were in sectors undergoing restructuring, namely Wholesale Trade, Financial & Insurance Services, Information & Communications and Professional Services sectors. About 7 in 10 of retrenched workers who accepted assistance by the Taskforce found new jobs within 6 months.

4. To help PMETs access job opportunities, the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative has a range of programmes that address gaps in skills or wage expectations. About 17,000 PMETs were placed last year, nearly double that in 2016. PMET placements made up 56% of all A&G placements, similar to the share of PMETs in the workforce. About 5,000 of them participated in Professional Conversion Programmes.

5. Nonetheless, there are PMET segments we are monitoring closely, such as mature PMET jobseekers as well as those who are long-term unemployed. Such groups receive more training or wage support under A&G programmes. As announced at Budget this year, we will extend the Career Support Programme for two years, to continue providing salary support to employers who hire long-term unemployed or retrenched mature PMETs. WSG is also increasing capacity for Professional Conversion Programmes to help reskill jobseekers for new jobs, and working upstream with economic agencies and companies to retrain workers at-risk of retrenchment to take up new jobs within the company.