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Labour chief identifies 3 ways to boost national productivity

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A lack of labour in less productive sectors is a key factor contributing to the negative growth of Singapore’s national productivity.

Speaking at the Labour Movement’s concluding National Day Observance Ceremony yesterday, Singapore’s labour chief Lim Swee Say said national productivity has been negative for the past two years. In 2012, it was -1.4% and last year it was -0.2%.

“If the demand for manpower in these less productive sectors continues to outpace that of the other more productive sectors, it will not serve the interests of our workers, and continue to impede our efforts to improve national productivity,” Lim said.

He added sectors with lower productivity should strive to become less labour-intensive by making better use of technology and labour saving devices.

Making these sectors less dependent on labour was second on the list of approaches Lim identified, which could aid in bringing Singapore’s national productivity back to positive growth. Increasing productivity levels of every sector was the foremost priority which was highlighted in his speech.

Lim highlighted two types of sectors – those which have achieved visible improvement in productivity growth and others that have yet to show clear signs of improvement.

He advised the less productive sectors to build on the success of early adopters, spread the productivity drive message to more people early so that the mind-set takes root, and to speed up the pace of innovation and change. The last approach he identified was to transform and create more jobs of the future by maximising potential upsides.

He added one way to achieve this is by embracing “future services”.

He illustrated how food and beverage outlets can leverage on digitalised services such as mobile phone apps to improve customer satisfaction while optimising the limited manpower.

He shared that this can be achieved if employers, employees and customers work together to change the way services are delivered. This will in turn improve service quality and upgrade productivity at the same time.

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