The need to develop a self-sustaining workforce
Accelerating technology adoption and Skill training
According to the Minister of Manpower, Singapore must develop self-reliance and self-sustaining workforce policies. If another pandemic hits and there are border restrictions, Singapore will face a labour crunch again. Thus, a key priority is developing a strong Singaporean core in the workforce. Accelerating technology adoption and equipping Singaporeans with skills for future jobs are ways to achieve that objective.
'If we do not build that resilience, if we do not build our self-sustainability, then I think as a country, it will be very tough for us to be able to compete and survive," Dr Tan said.
Need for a diverse workforce
However, Dr Tan also acknowledged that there is a need for a diverse workforce with locals and foreigners to cater to the needs of different businesses. So, Singapore needs to attract the right foreign workforce to bring in skills to complement the local workforce, especially due to an ageing workforce.
The government will raise the retirement age to 65 and the re-employment age to 70 by 2030. Measures to help mid-career workers above 40 learn new skills to switch careers or re-enter the workforce are also introduced. This is especially important for SMEs, which employ about 70 percent of the local workforce. SMEs need to turn to the older workforce and retain workers between the ages of 20 and 40. However, the talent shortage is across the board, and some businesses would prefer to tweak the foreign worker requirements to have greater access to foreign manpower.
It could also be more efficient and cost-effective for companies to outsource certain operations that can be provided in other countries at cheaper rates. However, in the long term, Singapore continues to challenge boosting labour productivity within the Singaporean core.
"It is also important for us to ensure that the workers continue to improve their productivity. Just wage increases without corresponding increases in productivity and output are not going to be sustainable," said the Manpower Minister.
According to the latest data from the Department of Statistics, labour productivity as measured by the growth of value-added per worker was 2.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with 5.8 per cent in the previous quarter.
How do you think Singapore can build a self-sustaining workforce with the global crunch in manpower?