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7 In 10 Singaporeans Don't Know This Brutal Work Fact

On the 14th of September, we published an article (which went semi-viral) regarding how disruption is making jobs redundant.

At the end of the article, we included a poll with the question: “Do you think that your job will disappear in the next 10 years?”

Screenshot as of 20 Sep, 10am

Fast forward a day to the 15th, with major news outlets The Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia reporting on the Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Report for Q2.

The headlines were bleak enough for many to reshare the articles on Facebook, and ‘react’ with a sad emoticon:

On Facebook pages of Channel NewsAsia and The Straits Times

But if we take away the terrifying headline, what did the report actually say?

TL;DR? Here’s an infographic for you to play catch-up:

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The biggest issues that the report brought up were the rise of redundancy of workers, and the increased need for both the employed and unemployed to upgrade, or maybe even go into another industry.

You Might Want To Start Freaking Out Now

While the Labour Market Report was sobering enough to send ‘sad’ and ‘shocked’ emoticons flying across our screens, a look at the poll results on our article (assuming most are working Singaporeans/Singapore residents) revealed otherwise.

A quick calculation of our poll reveals that even after the report was released, a whopping 71.6% of our respondents still cast their vote of confidence that their jobs are invulnerable to changes and disruption. What that also means, is that more than 7 in 10 people think that they can keep the same jobs in the next 10 years.

With cyclical and structural forces happening in our economy and industries continuously being disrupted, it’s hard to tell if the respondents’ confident sentiments are due to a lack of awareness, complacency, or plain naivety.

However, the poll results are not exactly surprising.

It’s human nature to assume that we are safe because we haven’t gotten word of our occupations becoming redundant. And with our busy schedules, who has the time to start freaking out and retraining anyway? Plus, it always happens to OTHER PEOPLE, no?

Image Credit: ignitethelight

Will our complacency be our inevitable downfall, though?

Today, For Tomorrow

Minister Chan Chun Sing speaking to media / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

On the 16th, I was part of the media invited to a sharing session with NTUC’s Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, who is also a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, at the Human Resource Leaders Forum organised by the Labour Movement.

In his dialogue with the audience of mainly human resource (HR) professionals, he talked about the importance of their roles, and how they are actually “de facto union leaders” among their colleagues due to their job scope. Contrary to popular belief, being a HR professional doesn’t only involve “being a people’s person”.

The Labour Chief listed three ways that HR leaders are like the union leaders in NTUC. One, they’re supposed to take care of the people. Two, they must make sure that the workers are treated fairly and with respect. Three, besides seeing the workers as resource, HR leaders and union leaders are expected to see people as a capital to be grown and groomed.

Due to the rise in redundancies, changes in business models, and the bleak market outlook in general, he emphasised that HR professionals are now required to perform more than just the role of the ‘mother’ of their peers – they actually need to start motivating and making sure that the staff are well-prepared lest disruption strikes.

“Helping today’s unemployed into today’s vacancy – that’s just level one of your job. Now, you’ll need to also help today’s unemployed into tomorrow’s vacancy, and eventually, tomorrow’s unemployed into tomorrow’s vacancy as well – and that’s the tricky part.”

In the media interview after the HR forum, Minister Chan was asked about how NTUC would be helping workers in light of the Labour Market Report.

Matching For The Present, And Preparing For The Future

Following the line of his sharing during the earlier dialogue with the HR professionals, the Labour Chief then elaborated on how NTUC is currently working with ministries and other government agencies to address the present, and future situation.

In summary:

A summary of Minister Chan's points / Image Credit: Vulcan Post
A summary of Minister Chan’s points / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

When asked if only the agencies are getting involved in the process, Minister Chan replied that corporate partners would also be involved since “they’re the ones who are in the market”, alongside the unions and trade associations, all of whom will be vital in providing a system of information for Singapore’s workers.

However, he also emphasised that preparation for disruption should not just be a spoon-fed solution by the Government or by NTUC, and that all the workers too have a part to play.

“We don’t want any of our workers to be complacent, to think their current skill set, their current jobs, will last forever.

So…How Now?

Currently, WDA has a range of programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative, who “supports Singaporeans who are affected by the economic slowdown”, and is catered to both Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) and Rank and File (RnF) workers.

Image Credit: WDA

NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) is also another portal that provides career guidance, professional development and training, networking and even placement into potential new jobs.

Unionised companies can also expect to work with NTUC closely on managing their manpower challenges, especially in the case of excess (aka redundant) workers.

In any case, I think the lesson we all can learn from this is that confidence isn’t always the best when it comes to jobs, and we should always remember to:

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

The Labour Movement wants to help working professionals prepare for the inevitability of disruption. Yes, especially the 7 in 10 of you.