Workforce expected to grow at a pace of 2% per year in future says Lim Swee Say
Singapore's workforce is expected to grow at a pace of about two percent or below per year in future.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say says the current growth rate of about four percent per year will not be sustainable for the longer term.
This, with the tightening of the foreign worker policy and efforts by the government to encourage companies to improve productivity through innovation and skills upgrading programmes.
The labour chief's comments comes a day after the Manpower Ministry released its figures for the third quarter of this year, showing that job growth had slowed in July to September this year.
Mr Lim explained that the slowdown can be attributed to two factors.
The first is cyclical, given the present uncertainty in the global economy.
And the second reason and more important one he says is that workers are seeing a structural shift in Singapore's manpower policy with a slowdown in the increase in the number of foreign workers.
"What this means is that in the future we could see a slower pace of job growth through this policy design. Our challenge is that to make sure that the slower growth in the workforce does not turn turn into higher structural unemployment, slower wage increase and slower economic growth."
Mr Lim once again echoed the point that there will be no u-turn on the government's policy to tighten the entry of foreign workers into the workforce.
"From the economic angle eventually, the Singapore economy will run out of steam. If we do not upgrade the skills and productivity, eventually, we will lose our competitiveness. More importantly from the social angle, Singapore will become overly crowded."
The CEO of the Jumbo group of restaurants, Mr Ang Kiam Meng says the government's policy on hiring foreign workers has been made very clear.
"We just have to bite the bullet and go along the direction. So far we have been coping quite well, it is difficult very challenging, there is a solution. It needs alot of management will power to meet the challenges//we are getting more and more local workers."
Minister Lim was all praise for Jumbo's schemes to improve productivity, serve its customers better and also take care of staff.
-By S Ramesh
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