Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) jobs are increasingly evolving, more now than ever before – so much so that it has become progressively more difficult for PMETs’ past experience and current skills to keep up. During the worst of the pandemic, PMETs continued to form the majority of local retrenchment, making approximately 75 per cent of the total retrenched residents (both citizens and permanent residents, with the biggest drop coming from those in their 40s and older.

Understanding Its Vulnerabilities

The multiple waves of Industrialisation have laid the foundations for several transformations, especially in terms of modern technology. Advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning are ushering in a new era of automation, as machines match or outperform human performance. While a boon in boosting efficiency and productivity, these technologies have been viewed to radically disrupt the way businesses and employees operate. The industry is then subjected to transformations, which prompts drastic changes to every level of an organisation.

Unfortunately, disruptive technologies are not the only factor that has placed PMET jobs under immense pressure. The rising trend of global work-from-home arrangements has accelerated the pace of digitalisation and encouraged companies to outsource their services to lower-cost countries, leaving PMETs even more vulnerable.

According to a McKinsey report, half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055. Unless PMETs can adapt to these economic and technological shifts, they are likely to be displaced. Fortunately, there are a few ways to ensure that affected PMETs can be fully equipped to take on the new economic challenges.

Employing Fair Hiring Practices

To adapt and grow with the changing landscape, PMETs will need to be given the opportunity to do so. This is where companies come in – employers will need to first welcome them back to the workforce. 

The first step involves adopting fair and progressive employment practices. This means not overlooking locally-trained PMETs when recruiting new employees, especially those of the older generation. Organisations will need to recognise that whilst they may lack the experience and skills directly relevant to their industry, PMETs are able to offer diverse experience and comprehensive soft skills to make up for that gap. For areas in which they do lack, such as new technological expertise, companies can deploy technology to be their partners to help them improve their productivity and expand their career growth trajectory. By investing in mid-career job seekers, companies can look to revel in long-term benefits.

Reskilling and Upskilling Programmes

Singapore’s economy is gradually shifting away from traditional sectors like banking and shipping to become a digital and e-commerce hub. To keep pace with this change as well as the technological advancements, affected PMETs will need to be made job-ready again, which is done through upskilling and reskilling

Through such initiatives, companies can look forward to enjoying the rewards of an upskilled and reskilled talent pool. Employers can leverage a vibrant workforce will broaden and deepen their current skill sets, effectively optimising their performance even further. Businesses can also consider rolling out job redesign initiatives and train their employees to adapt to different posts within the company. This means companies are able to save resources that would otherwise have been spent on searching and recruiting a new employee.

These benefits are not only reserved for businesses either, they can extend to the employees as well. By building their repertoire, PMETs can better adapt to the ever-changing landscape, which effectively strengthens their job security. With plenty of opportunities to learn, the workforce will develop to become happier, more motivated and productive.

Upskilling and retraining schemes can be costly, which may deter companies from embracing such initiatives. Fortunately, there are grants and programmes in Singapore that are designed to help companies, especially SMEs with less financial muscles, defray the costs of acquiring skilled and experienced PMETs onboard. For instance, the Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) work to support PMETs looking for a career switch. Under this initiative, they will undergo skills conversion to help them advance into into new occupations or industrial sectors that possess good prospects and opportunities for progression. WSG provides up to 70% in funding for salary support and course fee subsidy.

Building an Inclusive Working Environment for PMETs and Beyond 

In the face of rapid technological advancements, PMETs are one of the largest groups that face an increasing possibility of job disruption. However, all hope is not lost as we have the chance to collectively turn things around if both PMETs and companies work together to adapt in tandem with the changing landscape.

The SBF Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. Singapore Business Federation launched this initiative with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on to achieve long-term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.

Make the pledge to join others in this journey.