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Vector of a working women in Singapore

Singapore’s emphasis on enhancing the quality of female employment



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At the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting on 19 May, Singapore’s Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say provided an update on how Singapore is emphasising on enhancing the quality of female employment.

“Women should be able to live fulfilling lives, without having to choose between their career and their family. Because both are important,” he said at the forum held in Bad Neuenahr, Germany.

He provided the following data centred around steady progress over the last 10 years:

  1. Employment rate of women aged 25-64 has increased from 63% to 72% in the last 10 years, comparable to the top 10 OECD countries in terms of female employment rate.
  2. The median wage of women in Singapore has increased by more than 5% per annum in the last 10 years, same pace as that for men. There is still a gender wage gap of 10.3% in 2016.
  3. The proportion of employees who work in companies offering flexible work arrangements (FWAs) has increased from 1 in 2 (56%) in 2011 five years ago, to two in three (67%) in 2016.

Building on this progress, Minister Lim said the nation is continuing to strengthen its support for Singaporean women in three key areas:

  1. To improve the female employment rate further: The nation is raising the adoption rate of FWAs, by encouraging companies to offer part-time and job sharing opportunities for those who are not ready yet to return to full-time employment due to their family care responsibilities.
  2. To help women to stay future-ready and employable: The Ministry of Manpower’s social partners are embarking on a “Returnship” initiative to help Singaporean women to refresh their skills and transit to new jobs. It is also providing wage and training support to allow both the employers and employees to assess each other’s suitability during the transitional period.
  3. To strengthen HR practices for fair and progressive treatment regardless of gender: Employers are encouraged to set clear targets, conduct regular performance assessments and appraise employees fairly based on work outcomes, regardless of whether they are on FWAs.

In an earlier session, Minister Lim stressed that “technology will be the key driver of the future of work.” He explained by saying that while technology will  destroy many “jobs-of-today” because technology can do these jobs cheaper, better and faster, it will also help create many “jobs-of-tomorrow”, from high tech to high touch, from advance manufacturing to digital services.

He summed this up by dividing the impact of technology in three areas:

  1. Future of work: From a policy point of view, faster and more pervasive adoption of technology is to be welcomed as it will create better jobs and better careers for workers globally, he said.
  2. Future of skills: The faster pace of transformation will mean more workers will have to re-skill repeatedly just to remain employable in the same profession, or pursue new and different professions. The most important skill of the future is therefore the ability to re-skill.
  3. Future of workforce: “Innovation and inclusiveness can co-exist in the future of workforce. The two need not be mutually exclusive,” pointed out the Minister. His point was that employers should use technology and innovation to enhance the employability of all workers, such as robotisation or cobotisation making jobs easier, safer and smarter for older workers to work longer.

Photo / StockUnlimited

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