To better prepare workers for the future, the Labour Movement initiated a number of skills development and training programmes. It also pushed for legislation to help older workers by raising the retirement age and keeping them in employment.
Conscious of how the suddenness of economic changes can displace workers, the Labour Movement constantly worked towards ‘future-proofing’ our workforce through skills development and training programmes over the years. Early initiatives included the Basic Education for Skills Training (BEST) in 1982 and Worker Improvement through Secondary Education (WISE) in 1987. In December 1996, the NTUC initiated the Skills Redevelopment Programme (SRP) to promote certification of skills to improve the employability of workers who did not have strong education qualifications. The SRP allowed workers to be employed based on certified skills they possess, rather than just academic qualifications.
Beyond reskilling and retraining, the Labour Movement is also conscious of how better healthcare has prolonged workers’ natural and working lives. To help older workers remain active in employment, the NTUC pushed for the enactment of legislation to provide for the re-employment of older workers.
To this end, the Tripartite Implementation Workgroup on Older Workers issued the Tripartite Guidelines on Re-employment of Older Employees in March 2010. Following extensive consultations with employers, employees, the trade unions and the public, these Guidelines were updated and were used in the crafting of the Retirement Age (Amendment) Bill 2012 which renamed the legislation as the Retirement and Re-employment Act 2012. The law requires employers to offer eligible employees re-employment up to age 67.
In 2008, the NTUC established the e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), an institute that focused on raising the employability of workers and helped in their employment. Its range of services include career coaching to identifying forms of development and employment options, training and workplace advice. Since its inauguration, e2i has assisted over 700,000 individuals through its career guidance, professional development and job-matching services.