What started as an intention to foster economic growth and help Singapore’s growing businesses cope with labour shortages soon turned into fears as Singaporeans began to feel that more and more foreigners are taking away jobs from them.
Coupled with the foreign competition in the local job market, workers – especially those in their 40s and 50s – today also face greater job insecurity due to Singapore’s ongoing economic restructuring efforts to raise skills and productivity, as well as the disruption caused by rapid technological changes.
Acknowledging the anxiety that Singaporeans are feeling about their jobs, during the National Day Rally 2021, PM Lee Hsien Loong assured Singaporeans that the Government will continue to tighten the criteria for EP and S passes, while at the same time, ensuring that all employees are being treated fairly at workplaces by enshrining the anti-discrimination laws which have been pushed for repeatedly by the Labour Movement and Labour MPs from the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
Enhancing protection for local workers
To further enhance the protection as well as to strengthen support for Singaporeans in the workforce, the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce, formed in October 2020, has submitted nine recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower for the Government’s consideration.
Among the recommendations to strengthen the Singaporean core include ensuring that local workers are given enough support in their skill development, and opportunities will be given to Singaporeans.
Workers in the workforce should take ownership and constantly upskill in challenging times
Since 2016, the Singapore Government has rolled out a slew of initiatives to encourage Singaporeans to acquire new skills to ensure that workers can continue to stay relevant and keep up with the demands of an evolving job market.
To name a few, there is the SkillsFuture Programme, the Professional Conversion Programme under the Adapt and Grow initiative, and the career transition programmes delivered by the Continuing Education and Training Centres to help workers upskill and reskill.
As Singapore continues to grow its economy and create better job opportunities for Singaporeans through foreign investment, Singaporeans must also understand that we need to take ownership of our individual skills development, and constantly upskill ourselves as well to remain relevant in the workforce of tomorrow as well.
It helps us gain momentum and be future-ready so that when opportunities arise, we can be ready to take up the challenge – whether it is in Singapore or to work abroad to gain international exposure and experience.
Only then, can Singapore continue to prosper and succeed as a nation.