Story by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat
Young NTUC may be known for career support programmes such as the Youth Career Network and cause-based activities like Project Refresh, but another key facet of the unit’s work is in leadership development for the young unionists and youth activists within its ranks.
The most recent of these was a specially-arranged session where over 120 young union leaders and activists held a conversation with President Halimah Yacob on 30 August 2018 at NTUC Centre.
In the lead up to the dialogue, attendees were engaged in breakout discussions where facilitators encouraged them to think about issues of national interest, such as the cost of living, healthcare, housing and skills upgrading. Attendees explored potential solutions and took a closer look at the role unions can play in helping workers cope with technological disruptions in the workplace.
Mindset shift was one of the keywords repeatedly brought up by the attendees. Unions and employers must continue encouraging workers to embrace change as it comes, and provide the necessary support for workers.
During the dialogue, President Halimah reiterated that the labour force continues to be a strong pillar of Singapore’s economy. Keeping abreast of industry trends and developments, both locally and internationally, is crucial in helping workers stay relevant amidst the rapid technological developments.
President Halimah also encouraged youth leaders to take a broader view of global trends. Singapore may not have been directly affected by global events just yet, but there will be implications that will affect the industries that our workers have careers in.
She also added that unions are important channels of communications. Union leaders must have a greater awareness of national issues and policies as they have an important role to play in ensuring that the right information about policies are disseminated and explained to workers, so as to dispel misconceptions or myths workers may have about policies in Singapore.
Understanding the Concerns of Singaporeans
Participating in such a dialogue for the first time, Danny Jay Luke Davis, 29, a Young NTUC Youth Career Network volunteer career guide said: “Through the intimate setting of this dialogue, we can better understand the concerns of fellow Singaporeans from across different backgrounds and industries. We even got to hear the perspectives of the President of Singapore and how she could understand and relate to the concerns of normal Singaporeans like all of us.”
Echoing his sentiments, Young Public Utilities Board Employees’ Union leader Melissa Tay, 30, said: “We not only got an opportunity to meet up with President Halimah and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, but also exchange views with our fellow unionists on the issues that impact our everyday lives”.