ST Forum: How to future-proof employees and support the retrenched

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ST Forum: How to future-proof employees and support the retrenched

 SEP 2, 2023

Singaporeans who have lost their jobs involuntarily would have found comfort in the Government’s latest initiative to render financial and career-related support (Helping the retrenched as they transition, Aug 25).

Business reorganisations resulting in involuntary job loss will continue to happen. This is the price we pay for a world that continues to make technological advances.

On the topic of support for the retrenched, the Government, employer and worker must all take responsibility.

Employers must act responsibly and not be too quick to resort to retrenchment. Human resource professionals must act strategically to support the business and to mitigate the risk of jobs becoming redundant. They have to proactively review the knowledge and skills sets required in the foreseeable business future and provide the support to equip employees to be future-ready.

Employees cannot rely solely on their bosses to initiate developmental needs and instead, take charge of their own careers, and when required, invest in their own personal development to maintain their employability.

If and when the inevitable happens, the provision of company-paid retrenchment benefits kicks in and provides the financial buffer for employees in transition mode. There will be those that fall between the cracks and not have sufficient means to close the financial gap before they receive their next pay cheque.

The labour laws stipulate that employers have to pay retrenchment benefits to employees who have at least two years of continuous service. The minimum service period should be removed, and a minimum quantum be introduced to those who earn low wages.

When the new support scheme is finalised, three key questions come to mind: Who will be eligible, how much will they receive, and for how long? To further hold employers to act responsibly, they should legally be required to co-pay this benefit together with the Government.

Workers must self-manage their careers and focus on continual learning, self-development and acquiring a portfolio of skills to maintain a continued status of employability.

The other important thing is building a healthy network of contacts, as leveraging one’s network has proven to be the most effective avenue of job search. Singaporeans would do well to be less reliant on government support when it comes to their career, and losing their jobs.

Paul Heng

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