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Although the quarterly unemployment rate in Singapore rose slightly from 2.8% in December 2013 to 3% in March 2014, it remains “low and has been largely stable” for the past three years.
Speaking in Parliament this week, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said this slight increase in quarterly unemployment rates could reflect higher job search activity.
This could be due to the fact that “higher wages, more vacancies, and greater availability of flexible working arrangements in a tight labour market encourage more citizens to enter the labour market to look for jobs.”
“As the job search process may take some time, some slight increases in quarterly unemployment rates is expected,” he said.
As for those Singaporeans who make up the current unemployed population, Tan said their profile is varied, but about half of them are aged 40 and above.
“In terms of educational qualifications, about half had secondary education or below. About one in five is long-term unemployed.”
The key challenge in helping this population find jobs is in ensuring their skills remain relevant to evolving industry needs, he said.
This includes skills upgrading programmes and Continuing Education and Training (CET) systems and subsidies, whereby job seekers receive between 70% to 90% course fee subsidies, depending on the type of courses.
“Most importantly, individuals must have the right mindset, learn new skills, and be open to different job opportunities in growing industries, and of course we do need to create the conditions for which jobs are created, so the economy needs to be healthy for that to happen,” Tan added.