SNEF’s Structured Career Planning Guide: What Is It And How Can It Benefit Employers And Older Workers?

The structured Career Planning Guide was launched on 13 July 2022 by Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) in partnership with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The guide is meant to support businesses and workers to transform themselves to meet the challenges ahead and seize new growth opportunities.

It is no secret that Singapore’s population is ageing fast, with our total fertility rate (TFR) standing at a low 1.12 compared to the 1990s when it stood at 1.83. This has resulted in our old-age support ratio, which is computed as a ratio of residents aged 20 – 64 years for each resident aged 65 years and above, hiting a low of 4.0 as of June 2021. Therefore, more older workers might remain in the workforce for longer in the years ahead.

For businesses, the impending changes to the framework for the hiring of foreign workers, which include higher qualifying salaries and S Pass levy, will compound their difficulty and increase the cost of hiring new staff within a tight labour market. Hence, for these employers, it becomes more critical that they optimise their human capital by upskilling and reskilling their mature and senior workers.

This is where the Guide, which was developed in consultation with employees, business leaders, HR practitioners, line managers, career coaches, and academia, will help provide a framework for employers to start a conversation with their employees on their career expectations and skills needs. 

Here’s what employers and employees need to know about the structured career planning guide.

Read Also: Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS): What Singapore Employers Need To Know About Hiring Foreigners On Employment Pass

What Is Structured Career Planning

By the definition stated in the guidebook, “Structured Career Planning (SCP) is a formal and deliberate career and skills dialogue process that aims to benefit both employers and employees.”

In other words, the SCP was meant to give employers a structure and guidance on how they could engage their mature and senior employees based on their current and future capability requirements while supporting their employees’ career goals.

As part of the SCP, employers could have career conversations with mature employees (aged 45 to 54), focusing on the employees’ future career plans and potential support from their employers. At the same time, for senior employees (aged 55 and above), the career conversation could be centred around the relevant skills needed for their reemployment.

Why The Need For Structured Career Planning?

Singapore has an ageing population where the proportion of our citizens aged 65 years and above is rising at a faster pace compared to the previous decade. This trend is expected to continue into the next decade. Furthermore, the life expectancy for Singaporeans has also been improving over the last decade to 83.9 years in 2020, up from 81.7 years in 2010 (Singstats Populations Trend 2021). This has led to a rise in projections on the number of citizens aged 65 and over, to reach 900,000 by 2030, up from 600,000 in 2020. Hence, this SCP conversation would allow more seniors who wish to continue working in their later years to be able to participate and be actively involved in the future economy.

Source: Structured Career Planning Guidebook

However, currently, there is a lack of clarity on the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in the career progression and transition of mature and senior employees.

On the government’s end, it took the first step by raising the Retirement and Re-employment ages to 63 and 68, respectively, since 1 July 2022. And this will eventually be raised to 65 and 70 by 2030.  
On the employees’ end, they may find it challenging to discuss their career plans with their supervisors or employers, who themselves may not know how to effectively engage these workers to address their career aspirations. 

As such, the SCP was formed to assist employers and employees to have a systematic guideline to discuss based on a multi-stage career model, which accounts for more reskilling and retraining throughout one’s extended career.

Source: Structured Career Planning Guidebook

The SCP will enable employers to prepare the resources needed to develop their employees, who, in turn, will also be encouraged to adopt a growth mindset and take ownership of their own career development. This joint partnership of efforts will lay the foundation for businesses to transform and pivot to new growth sectors.

Read Also: Increase In Retirement Age (Along With CPF Contributions): What Employers Need To Know

How Structured Career Planning Can Help Businesses?

The SCP enables companies to employ, enable, and engage experienced employees amidst a shrinking labour force of young workers.

By engaging their employees through the SCP, companies stand to benefit in three main ways. First is the higher productivity that businesses could derive by retaining their experienced employees. These employees could even take on mentor roles as they pass down their experience and knowledge to new hires. Moreover, experienced employees could have better customer understanding due to their long-term relationships with customers, which may boost sales.

The second benefit is reduced business costs. Businesses could save time and recruitment costs that they would otherwise have to incur to select, onboard, and train new employees for the replacement of mature and senior employees who would have deep specialised knowledge and job-related know-how.

The third benefit is better management of business risk. Employees of all ages would be less likely to feel unfairly treated if they had open and fair access to training, recruitment, workplace adjustments, or flexible work. They would also be less likely to raise a dispute or sulk at work. This fair treatment of mature and senior employees and the continued support of their continuing professional development may build upon the business’s reputation and corporate loyalty.

Full Version Vs. Lite Version Of The Structured Career Planning Implementation Framework

Companies are recommended to follow all 7 steps under the full version of the structured career planning. However, if they do not have the required resources to implement the full version, they could choose to adopt the lite version, which has only 4 steps.

Full Version  Lite Version
Step 1: Garner management buy-in and support Step 1: Garner management buy-in and support
Step 2: Implement the relevant HR policies for retirement and re-employment Step 2: Train HR and Line Managers for the SCP programme
Step 3: Implement the relevant HR policies for staff development Step 3: Conduct the SCP programme
Step 4: Train HR and Line Managers for the SCP programme Step 4: Regularly evaluate and improve on the SCP programme
Step 5: Communicate the intent of SCP company-wide  
Step 6: Conduct the SCP programme  
Step 7: Regularly evaluate and improve on the SCP programme  

Companies could consider implementing the SCP conversations with their employees at the different milestones. The first milestone could be when the employee turns 45 or 55 years of age, and have a review once a year until the statutory retirement age of 63 (as of 1 July 2022). The second milestone could be at least 6 months before the employee’s retirement age. The third milestone would be at least 3 months prior to the end of every contract. And the fourth and last milestone would be at the post-statutory retirement age.

The guidebook also contains an implementation toolkit, resources for both employees and employers, such as the individual career assessment guide and career conversation readiness checklist, and structured career conversations for supervisors and HR practitioners.

Using this framework, businesses can embark on business and workforce transformation by redesigning jobs and making the workplace more age-friendly. This could be in the form of offering part-time or flexible work arrangements to attract and retain senior workers. Companies that do so can tap on the funding support from the Part-Time Re-Employment Grant and the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant.   

Read Also: SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC): A One-Off $10,000 Grant For Companies To Transform Their Business And Upskill Employees

All in all, reskilling and upskilling of our mature workforce will help to improve productivity while at the same time reducing our reliance on a foreign workforce. It will also help businesses think about business transformation to remain competitive globally and seize new opportunities.

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