Are you missing out on one of the largest networks in Singapore?

Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing visiting the U Startup booths at the NDOC. Source: NTUC

Discovering new connections in a powerful network and leveraging them for mutually beneficial relationships.

Jasmine Chua
19 September 2016

A National Day Observance Ceremony unlike before

The Big Box Auditorium was abuzz with activity.

I took in the myriad of sights, sounds and activity as I gingerly explored the sprawling exhibition space where 24 booths were set up by the Labour Movement and its partners – including the unions, NTUC’s social enterprises, U Associates, U SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises Unit), U FSEs (Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit), e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) etc.

Each had a unique offering ranging from ready-to-eat food by our U SME partners to the showcasing of initiatives by our social enterprises to promoting of service offerings by our U Associates.

Participants showing up in full force-minParticipants showing up in full force to celebrate as one Labour Movement. Photo: NTUC This Week

This year’s NTUC National Day Observance Ceremony (NDOC) was markedly different from previous years in terms of scale, format and activities.

With over 2000 participants turning up in full force and ample opportunity to mingle with good company, this was certainly the quintessence of what NTUC Secretary-General, Chan Chun Sing, meant when he wanted participants to discover and form new connections on which to leverage upon for mutually beneficial relationships.

Participants networking at various NTUC booths at NDOC-minParticipants networking at various booths at NDOC. Photo: NTUC

With the myriad of booths available at NDOC, I certainly jumped at the chance for a bit of exploration and these were some of the booths that piqued my interest:

1. Responsible for the novel café concept in Sengkang where meals are served by unmanned vending machines, Chef-In-Box, an initiative by JR Group Holdings, which happens to be one of our U SME partners that was on site to showcase their menu offerings for event and home catering.

Singapore’s first vending machine café-minSingapore’s first vending machine café. Photo: The Straits Times

2. B2B marketplace platform, ThunderQuote, aims to match freelancers to companies requiring business services, making the search for a photographer, a graphic designer or a web developer a breeze! The platform has handled over $600,000 SGD of service procurements since their launch.U FSE had invited ThunderQuote to NDOC to show how gig aggregators can help freelancers get more jobs.

3. Singapore Cybersports & Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) showcased a mobile eSports title developed by homegrown game developer SparkJumper, and shared their plans for an upcoming eSports Academy, which aims to develop leaders and prepare Singaporeans for jobs of tomorrow.

Asean Games For E-Sports 2016-minPhoto: SCOGA Facebook Page

4. Singapore-based startup, Vanitee, indulged participants in some on-the-spot beauty and wellness pampering so you can get your nails done, while listening to their startup story and list of beauty professionals that you can engage.

Multiplier effect of networks

As he addressed the crowd, NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing told guests to leave the event with three key takeaways:

1) To feel the Labour Movement’s network

2) Build up the network with newfound connections and

3) For all to benefit from the network

The growing Labour Movement network-minThe growing Labour Movement network. Photo: NTUC

He reiterated the gist of these points in the media brief after the event, where he gave the analogy that he envisaged the Labour Movement to be like our Changi Airport, a hub of connections and that we would grow by connecting the different parts of the Labour Movement, and by strengthening these connections.

He went on to elaborate on his example of how when there are two entities, there is only one connection. But when there are three entities, there are three connections; four entities translate into six connections; so on and so forth.

Yes, connections will increase exponentially with more and more communities and partners joining our network.

NTUC wants to connect people together in a powerful network-minNTUC wants to connect people together in a powerful network. Photo: Linkedin

So, connections beget connections and on top of leveraging on strengths, we hope to see the cross-pollination of ideas between and across different partners.

It’s then clear that this year’s NDOC was a deliberate effort to bring together different partners to allow them to form new connections.

Secretary-General Chan highlighted the multiplier effect of networks when he said, “When we strengthen these connections that we have, the ultimate beneficiaries will be the workers. Getting better knowledge, more skills and more training will prepare them for the future.”

New kids on the block

There have been many new developments within the Labour Movement, and many new communities and partners have since joined the NTUC family.

Here, we showcase three of these “new kids on the block” that are part of the Labour Movement’s fast-growing network, and how the interconnectivity of this network can do magic.

U Associate (UA)

Did you know NTUC has already partnered 37 professional guilds spanning 21 sectors?

Initiated in 2011, U Associate is a partnership programme designed to engage and support our professional associations and PMEs.

Our U Associate partners. Source: NTUC

It is an ecosystem of professional guilds across different sectors that offer opportunities for sharing of ideas, skill sets and knowledge to help working people progress in their careers and prepare for the future. Check them out here.

How U Associates can tap on the NTUC Network

Besides working together with NTUC to develop sectoral courses for PMEs enabling them to pick up new knowledge and skills, the U Associates have also organised bite-sized workshops and full-fledged seminars for the larger audiences.

U Associate Partners-minU Associate Partners. Source: NTUC

U SME (Small Medium Enterprises) 

Did you know SMEs hire some 70% of our working population in Singapore?

Established in June 2014, the USME initiative was set up by the Labour Movement to address the range of critical issues and challenges faced by SMEs.

The USME programme looks at helping SMEs enhance their operations so that, in turn, they can better take care of their workers.

How SMEs can tap on the NTUC Network

A recent initiative saw USME and NTUC’s Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi) jointly develop the U SME HR Series, which is aimed at helping to build up the competencies of SME HR departments.

More information can be found here.

U FSE (Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit)

Did you know there are now over 200,000 freelancers and self-employed in Singapore?

One of the newer additions to the Labour Movement family, U FSE was set up to look after the collective interests of an expanding pool of working people who choose freelancing as a viable work option.

Different freelancing options-minOur different freelancers. Photo: NTUC This Week)

How freelancers can tap the NTUC Network

One such group of freelancers is the Sports Coaches Association of Singapore, for whom U FSE recently helped. U FSE collaborated with NTUC’s legal department to organize a legal workshop to help sports coaches better understand how they can protect themselves legally.

In the pipeline are also other similar workshops for different groups of freelancers.

What about you? Have you experienced and tapped on the Labour Movement’s ever-expanding network yet?

The writer works for the Labour Movement and has a keen interest in voicing opinions on labour-related issues.