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Tea with Patrick Tay

3 years ago / ntuc / working girl / worklifesg

Talking about food, work and PMEs.

This isn't the first time I have met Labour MP Patrick Tay (we go way back to 2016 if you're interested) but this is the first time I meet him on a one-to-one basis (I'm pretending the minion doesn't exist haha) and the first time we get really up close and personal - or in his words, "unsanitary".

First up, who is Patrick Tay?

According to Google (which is like the most official source of any research lol), his full name is Patrick Tay Teck Guan and he is currently 46 years old, married, and has 3 kids.

If you really want to know, here is his LinkedIn which also lists all the schools he has attended, right from his days at St Pats to his law degree and Harvard Business School days. It also lists his career highlights with the Singapore Police Force and most impressively, his last appointment with the force was Commanding Officer of the STAR Unit aka our version of 飞虎队 or SWAT team - depending on which kinda shows you watch.

His LinkedIn also shows a rather long list of "current appointments",


Well, this isn't surprising I guess. Considering that Patrick is the Assistant Secretary-General at NTUC and currently the Director of NTUC Legal Services Department, as well as the Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST) Department. He is the Executive Secretary of The Singapore Manual & Mercantile Workers' Union. He currently chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower and also co-chairs the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Given this portfolio, it is expected that he has represented numerous unions and union members in dispute resolution and he has also represented the Labour Movement in tripartite workgroups to review and update employment and industrial relations legislation.

More importantly, as Director of the FJST unit that was just set up last year, he is busy looking into what future jobs there are, and what future skills are needed, so that the Labour Movement can prep the necessary training to journey the workers along and help to move them from sunset industries/jobs to sunrise industries/jobs.

I mean, I am a pretty good example right?

When I graduated a decade ago, social media wasn't even a thing. Facebook had JUST started, Twitter was picking up, Instagram was not going to happen until a couple of years later. Who would have thought that one can make a living with social media? And that Instagram will eventually dominate what people eat/wear/buy and with the digital world fast taking over traditional media, it has inevitably leading to the massive retrenchment in the publishing powerhouse that is SPH. Even TODAY by Mediacorp wasn't spared.


Tbh I think no industry can be spared from disruption and hence Patrick has been very involved in the planning and launches of the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) across the 23 clusters and the Labour Movement is committed to getting the unions and unions leaders involved and taking charge of informing workers of the ITMs so they know what’s happening in their sectors, and mobilising them to get upgraded with future skills for tomorrow’s jobs.

Besides this, if you have been following my blog for the last few years, you'd know that Patrick is probably my favourite Labour MP (though Desmond is the most handsome in my books HAHA) because he is often championing for Professionals, Managers and Executives or PMEs for short.

In his recent Budget 2018 speech, he says he is worried for us PMEs otherwise known as the "sandwiched class".


He says that the latest labour market report as well as the labour market trends do not auger well for us with 70% of those laid off in 2016 and 2017 were PMETs. There are several jobs at risk and even skills that are at risk.

When I was growing up, I was told that banking and accountancy are probably the safest and well-paying careers out there. I was accepted into NTU Accountancy but eventually did a degree in Economics at NUS. According to Facebook, many of my classmates are now either in audit at the Big 4 or in the foreign banks.

In his speech, Patrick talked about how the banking and accountancy sectors have evolved.

He shared that during the Labour Movement’s recent Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST) Forum, Citibank shared that 4 years ago, they set up their first smart banking branch and started eliminating jobs – there was no longer a need for bank tellers, greeters, cash officers and service bankers in the branches. In their place were 130 multi-skilled Universal Service Bankers. Job roles requiring a single skill were eliminated. The new job role consolidated adjacent skills and role requirements into one role. In 2 years’ time, the Universal Service Bankers’ role will also evolve and may also not exist as more digitisation and digitalisation is adopted. Sales jobs have also been impacted as people prefer to procure services via the Internet and mobile app. For example, chatbots are likely to eliminate telephone marketing and support jobs as people prefer not to wait to talk to a person when they have a query, they want to key in their query online and receive an immediate response in their digital environment of choice, e.g. Facebook.

And in the accountancy sector, the traditional maker and checker roles to assess compliance in assurance, audit and tax will be transformed. With adoption of technology, the process of consolidating and making sense of information will be made easier. Employees will need to possess broader skills in areas of understanding technology. An example is a Tax Technologist who must also understand fraud detection systems. The audit role has to shift to one which helps the client to manage the risk and compliance issues of the business.

And are there skills at risk?

Of course.

Did you know that the typical half-life of skills is about 5 years? And hence you face the risk of becoming obsolete if you do not acquire new, relevant skills fast enough.

Let me give you an example. Back when I first started blogging, I also picked up some coding to work on my websites. Knowing some php and javascript made me feel very superior hahahaha until I read this article yesterday about this Singaporean boy who was fluent in three computing languages - Arduino, JavaScript and Python - at FIVE years old.


Which is why NTUC is reworking the entire adult learning model and want to develop modules which are bite-sized and just-in-time for continuous learning.

So what can we as PMEs do to safeguard our future and ensure that we have enough money to send our kid to pre-school, buy more Tula and take that annual vacation to Japan (obviously I'm referring to myself here)?

According to Patrick, he has 3 suggestions on what employers and employees need to do. He calls it the 3 ‘C’s - Change Mindsets, Communicate and Collaborate. It's quite long so I won't copy and paste the whole chunk but you can read it here by scrolling to page 4.

The key thing is that we already have a budget which values every worker but done by keeping our feet on the ground and staying ready, relevant and resilient. Putting our hand on our heart and communicating the jobs at risks and skills at risk. Focusing our eyes on the future by helping the future unemployed land into future jobs.

And on the personal front, I must say that Patrick is super candid.

He readily shared about his family (he has 3 kids!), wife (they met while training together at the Police Academy) and personal life right from his school days to his current hobbies.

In fact, if you watch this voyeuristic feature we did, it was HIM who suggested that we get his kids involved. He also readily invited Smith to his office where he shared the 10000001 memorabilia he has.

You can tell that he is quite the family man and that his children hold the utmost admiration for their Daddy. He also isn't very Tiger Dad-ish haha but was super encouraging to his sons when we crashed one of their family bowling sessions.

To be honest, I felt a little "heart pain" for him when you can see that his children are perhaps closer to their mother instead but I suppose that one is so busy championing for the numerous workers out there, something's gotta give.

(Photos by the super talented Smithankyou hahah, taken at One Marina Boulevard aka NTUC Centre! Please contact us at Project 24 if you need our services. After all, I need to safeguard my PME rice bowl you know? Lol)