NTUC Sec-Gen Ng Chee Meng shares how NTUC is gearing up to prepare all workers for the future of work


According to World Economic Forum research, by 2025, more than half of all employees will need to reskill or upskill to remain relevant.

Upskilling and reskilling have been a national priority since 2008. As economic and business changes are accelerating around, Singapore will need new approaches to ensure a sustained future, especially during a time of rising uncertainty.

Mr Ng, in his speech at the Institute of Policy Studies’ Singapore Perspective Conference which took place yesterday, highlighted three progressive steps that NTUC is taking to safeguard job security.

1. NTUC championing all workers’ interests

NTUC will need to champion the interests of PMEs and freelancers to represent the full spectrum of the workforce.

MOM responded positively to NTUC’s call in leveling the playing field for our PMEs amidst foreign competition.

NTUC along with the Government, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Institutes for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) to improve HR standards in the companies to improve workplace fairness for our local PMEs.

“For our senior workers, NTUC has championed the change in employment and retirement ages and re-employment ages, we have worked with government and employers to raise the re-employment age to 70, and the retirement age to 65 for our mature workers. And this will be done by the end of this decade hopefully, economic conditions permitting,” said Mr Ng.

In efforts to prevent mature PMEs from getting involuntarily unemployed in the future, timely intervention of training and upgrading of skills will help to keep them relevant. Hence, it is crucial for workers who are in their 40s and 50s to upskill across different breadths of expertise and depth of skills. Waiting till they hit their 60s might be too late.

There has been an increase in platform workers and freelancers in Singapore’s workforce. NTUC recognize the vulnerability of the nature of their work and here are some of the areas NTUC is championing:

  1. Long-term financial planning – Employer CPF contributions for housing needs and retirement planning.
  2. Workplace injury assurance – Protection and medical claims for accidents.
  3. Freelancers’ right to seek formal representation alongside what NTUC has been doing for middle groups of workers in the traditional space.

2. NTUC to work with employers to embark on business transformation while engendering workforce transformation

Disruptions are unavoidable when companies undergo business transformation, and this will cause concerns among workers. Concerns about being displaced and replaced by technological advancements. Integrating technology to increase productivity and business growth is necessary but addressing the concerns of workers shouldn’t be ignored.

NTUC recognizes that the way forward would require partnerships between employers and the unions, hence, the setting up of Company Training Committees (CTCs). CTCs involves both the management and union leaders to partner each other in business and workforce transformation.

“CTCs allow persuasion beyond words. Through collaborative strategies, workers on the ground can see practical collaboration initiatives for their own interests as well,” said Mr Ng.

Through this process, union leaders will understand the business’ new directions and how jobs will be redesigned to fulfill the transformation. This would allow companies to mitigate their workers’ concerns. Training plans will be co-developed between HR and the unions for all workers to either be upskilled for their existing jobs or reskilled for new roles.

3. Foster a “JUST” transition as Singapore moves into a greener future economy

Because of climate change, there are many developments in the Green space.  Moving towards a greener economy will open more opportunities but in attendance, many challenges as well.

In preparation for the future of work, NTUC is embarking and working closely with Temasek Portfolio Companies (TPC) to explore how “Just” Transformation can be applied to companies under the TPC umbrella with the interest to pursue a greener business work plan.

Temasek and NTUC will design actionable plans for workers and union leaders so that they can move in tandem for the future of work in the larger economic transformation.

Looking to the future, change is happening at a rapid speed. While Singapore strives to sustain economic growth and companies aim for productivity growth, NTUC will continue to champion all workers’ interests by securing better living, better wages, better welfare, and better work prospect for all workers.

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