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A SENIOR National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) figure has expressed concern for Singapore's financial sector, which has seen a "worrying" trend of foreign banks laying off their employees.
In a blog posting on the labour movement's website (labourbeat.org), NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay noted how the retrenchments, coupled with an uncertain global economic outlook, had caused many to expect tougher times ahead for the sector.
Standard Chartered, HSBC and Credit Suisse are among the major banks that have laid off thousands of employees around the world of late.
Of the 71 staff members that Barclays let go last month, about half were Singapore PMEs (professionals, managers and executives). Mr Tay, who is also director of NTUC's PME Unit, was relieved that some of the local PMEs were later redeployed within the bank.
Mr Tay added that those working at Singapore's three banks - UOB, DBS and OCBC - "may have less to worry about" as recent reports stated that they were still hiring and not expected to reduce staff drastically.
Still, he warned that Singaporean PMEs in the financial sector should prepare themselves as the road ahead could be rocky for some.
"In particular, I worry for Singaporeans working in foreign banks as many of the decisions are made at the global HQ. We have seen hints with the challenges faced by several large global and regional banks and also several going on wage freezes locally. Having said that, I want to assure PMEs in this sector that they should not feel discouraged," said Mr Tay.
He called on the PMEs here to improve their skills and manage their expectations as far as their salaries are concerned. Employers, on their part, should send their workers for training so that they will be less affected by retrenchments, he said.
"My parting advice for fellow PMEs in the financial sector: please stay ready, resilient and relevant, embrace second-skilling, deep-skilling, re-skilling, up-skilling and multi-skilling," Mr Tay added.