Speech by Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower, at TAA 2021 Presentation Ceremony

16 Aug 2021Speeches

Brother Stephen Lee, Chairman, Tripartite Alliance Limited, 

Sister Mary Liew, President, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC),

Brother Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, NTUC,

Brother Robert Yap, President, Singapore National Employers Federation,

Sister Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon. I am happy to join you at the Tripartite Alliance Award presentation ceremony.

2. Today, we are recognising a group of exemplary employers who have distinguished and differentiated themselves by building progressive workplaces where employees can contribute their best. This batch of award winners is especially inspiring, as they have continued to keep their employees at the heart of their business, even in the midst of the pandemic. 

3. Let me share 3 things that struck me about the award winners.

Talent Optimisation Through Reskilling 

4. First, our Award winners optimise talent through re-skilling, and they remain committed to this effort despite disruptions.  

5. One example is Ministry Holdings, a local small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the cleaning industry. 

  • The company has built a diverse workforce by hiring individuals from all walks of life, including retirees, housewives, ex-offenders and experienced Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) from Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Professional Conversion Programme.

  • Given its workforce profile and varied work experiences of its employees, the Ministry Holdings invests significantly in equipping its workforce with the skills to do their jobs well.

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ministry Holdings also took the opportunity to upskill and reskill their workers to meet new business demands. For example, the company trained their staff to apply self-disinfecting coating on bus interiors to keep our public transport clean and safe for daily commuters.

  • Their employees’ willingness and ability to adapt to changing work requirements, helped to reinforce Ministry Holdings’ conviction that its people, many of whom are older workers, are a valuable part of the company. 

Prepare Employees for the Future of Work

6. Another defining trait of the award winners is that they embrace innovation and support their employees to do so. 

  • These companies continuously evolve and experiment with new ways of working, both to sustain their business and create positive impact for their employees.

  • They also plan for the future, to enable their employees to continue to contribute and grow with their organisations. 

7. OCBC Bank’s Future Workforce Initiative is one such example. Through this programme, OCBC reviewed the job roles of about 9,000 employees.

  • The bank identified the roles which are most likely to undergo major changes, and how they are likely to change.

  • OCBC also identified the skills that have the highest demand, as part of their workforce transformation plans.

  • Using these findings, OCBC developed reskilling and redeployment transition plans for more than 1,000 employees. They also worked on dedicated learning roadmaps and certification pathways to upskill other employees. Such efforts would enable these employees to take on in-demand roles, continue to stay relevant and contribute effectively to the growth of the business.

  • During the pandemic, OCBC continued to invest in technological tools to provide employees with continued access to HR services and learning opportunities even while working remotely. These investments have paid off, as OCBC’s employees have adapted quickly to changes, and have continued to uphold high service standards throughout these challenging times.

8. Preparing for the future of work is a shared responsibility of both employers and employees. I encourage more employers and employees to actively seek out opportunities for growth and value creation. The current and planned Jobs Transformations Maps for key sectors will serve as a useful compass to do so.

Make Effort to Engage Employees for a More Productive Workforce 

9. Finally, progressive employers provide adaptive workplace programmes, as well as different career pathways and work arrangements for their employees. 
These efforts help employees manage their different career and life stage needs. In turn, companies reap the benefits of a more productive workforce.

10. Prudential Singapore has taken bold steps in this area.

  • It has done away with the retirement age entirely, and has raised the age cap for its group medical coverage to 100 years old!

  • Prudential also provided Career Switch, a programme that allows employees to take on corporate roles in Voluntary Welfare Organisations that align with their personal aspirations. During this period, employees are supported by Prudential on full employment terms and are able to return to Prudential afterwards.

  • During the pandemic, Prudential also introduced programmes to support its employees’ mental well-being. These include a mindfulness-based stress reduction programme, and 24-hour access to free counselling services. 

11. Another example is Royal Plaza on Scotts.

  • Recognising that some employees had heavier personal commitments, it allowed these employees to opt for a reduced, 22-hour work week. At the time, they could continue to enjoy the same employee benefits, rewards, and training opportunities as full-time employees.

  • The hotel also encourages employees to step forward to speak with their department heads about utilising work-life initiatives, without the need to fill up application forms. This exemplifies the authenticity of progressive employers when it comes to listening to their employees. 

12. Congratulations to Ministry Holdings, OCBC Bank, Prudential Singapore and Royal Plaza on Scotts!

Organisations of All Sizes Can Have Progressive Employment Practices 

13. I would also like to specially mention the SMEs that are being recognised today. 

14. I am pleased to note that of the 21 employers receiving the Tripartite Alliance Awards, almost half are SMEs.

  • This is very encouraging. It shows that while SMEs may not have the resources of larger companies, they can successfully implement progressive employment practices that benefit their employees and their business.  

Set-up of Tripartite Collective to Strengthen Efforts in Tripartism 

15. The organisations which have done well in the Tripartite Alliance Awards have also — above all — collaborated with stakeholders, employees, unions, to secure the success of their businesses and employees alike. This is a good reflection of how tripartism has become a competitive advantage for our nation. 

16. Our tripartite model has played a key role in maintaining workplace harmony during COVID-19, and will help us emerge stronger from this crisis. It is important to continue working closely with employers and workers to further entrench tripartism in the wider community. Today, I am glad to announce the set-up of Tripartite Collective. 

17. Supported by the Temasek Foundation, this new Tripartite Collective will bring together members from tripartite partners, as well as representatives from the academic, legal and media communities, to have an open exchange of ideas on issues faced by our workforce and employers. This will allow us to foster a shared understanding on the role and importance of tripartism in Singapore. 

18. I encourage our tripartite partners, Tripartite Alliance Award recipients and Human Capital Partners to support this initiative.

19. Once again, congratulations to the winners. You have won not just the Tripartite Alliance Award, but more importantly, the hearts and minds of your workforce. I wish you continued success, and may you continue to inspire us as you progress in your employment journey.

20. Thank you, and I wish everyone an enjoyable afternoon!