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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed some of the concerns Singapore workers have on jobs during his speech at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) last night. In this speech, he outlined what the Government was doing to help businesses upgrade and create good jobs.
Not only that, he added that the labour movement and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will ensure workers who are facing layoffs be treated fairly, and help them acquire the skill necessary for available jobs.
PM Lee noted that while the economy is slowing, Singapore is not in a crisis as it was when the 2008 global financial crisis hit. A longer-term strategy is in place to grow the economy and create jobs, he told union leaders.
“It is not an infection that can be cured with one course of antibiotics… but taking vitamins daily (and) following a rigorous exercise and training programme,” he said reported in Straits Times.
There are currently 63,000 jobs available at the National Jobs Bank, and 13,000 workers having been placed this year, with more ready to be matched in 2017.
PM Lee added, “Workers need to do their part as well by adapting. (They) have to let old jobs go and get into new jobs.”
Laying out a broad strategy to overcome the situation, PM Lee encouraged workers to tap programmes under SkillsFuture to upgrade their skills.
He highlighted how PMETs will get “personalised attention” in job matching due to their skills being more specific.
Other than that, he added how help for companies will cover 23 sectors representing about 80% of the economy. These companies will get individual road maps that will not only transform them, but also help small and medium-sized enterprises.
“If any country can succeed, Singapore can,” he concluded.
On the other hand, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say was at the SBF Productivity Conference and Exhibition yesterday. Speaking on the low GDP growth, Minister Lim brought forward how “cyclical slowdown in the global economy” and the “structural transition in the local workforce” have caused the GDP growth to drop from an average of 4% between 2011 to 2014, to 2% in 2015, and less than 2% this year. With rate of growth dropping sharply towards 1% by 2020,”it could stagnate in the next decade.”
He added: “Coupled with flat productivity and lower growth of foreign manpower, GDP growth dropped in tandem with the drop in workforce growth, from 4% workforce growth + 0% productivity growth = 4% GDP growth, to 2% workforce growth + 0% productivity growth = 2% GDP growth last year.”
“We cannot hope to go back to high growth simply by taking in more foreign workers. The only workable and sustainable solution is to up our productivity gain.”
In the speech, he mentioned how better education and skill profiles will bring about better jobs and better wages for workers to grow better in their careers.
In light of helping older workers match better to jobs, Minister Of State Sam Tan also made an announcement at the Age Management Seminar yesterday. Addressing the issues on Singapore’s aging population and workforce, companies should make an effort not to lose their older employees by “redesigning jobs to improve employee engagement and productivity by managing the needs of the workforce”.
Photo / 123RF