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With a substantial focus on higher skills, higher productivity and higher wages, it is apparent that the Budget 2016 is very much about creating jobs of the future.

During the Budget debate in Parliament, yesterday, NTUC Secretary-General (SG) and MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Chan Chun Sing noted: “I think we should see this year’s Budget as an ongoing, continuous effort to restructure our economy, to upskill our workers, so that we can all have the careers of the future.”

Chan added that though the government has implemented various schemes such as the Special Employment Credit which many workers are thankful for, “the true mark of success for all these schemes is not these schemes themselves, but for us to work upstream to make sure that as few workers as possible are reliant on these schemes.”

In his speech, Chan pointed out the labour movement’s four key areas of concern.

Structural unemployment

Chan noted that there are jobs still being created despite workers being laid off due to changes in business structures citing the example of companies closing down physical stores to open online ones.

“So the problem is not the total number of jobs available in the economy, the real question is how do we help the person who is displaced at the retail line to get into another job that has been created,” he added.

He pointed out that in order to avoid this structural unemployment, Singaporeans have to upgrade themselves.

One way in which this upgrading can be done is with the help of the SkillsFuture Credit.

With regards to this, Chan felt that more can be done to increase the number of courses that are current and relevant to the workers.

Moving forward, he pointed out that the “labour movement wants to work with the post-secondary education institutes (PSEI) of Singapore and institutes of higher learning (IHL) to stretch the SkillsFuture Credit that are available to Singaporeans.”

SG Chan said: “It will be a very involved process that the labour movement will definitely want to work with the employers and the Government to make sure that we minimise the occurrences of possible structural unemployment.”

ALSO READ: What is the future of Singapore’s workforce?

Retirement Age and the re-employment of older workers

When it comes to hiring, many organisations tend to prefer hiring fresh grads over older workers. However, one has to note that older workers can be an asset to the organisation too.

Chan noted that there are more workers who wish to continue working into their golden years to contribute with their experience and capabilities. In order for that, he pointed out that it is necessary to review the fixed retirement age.


Another key challenge comes in the area of productivity.

SG Chan said: “I hope going forward, beyond a broad policy, we need to go sectorally to examine where are the laggers in our productivity drive, how best can we help them to uplift them in their respective sectors.”

Singaporean Core

Lastly, in line with the government’s target to create a workforce with a strong Singaporean core, Chan noted that the labour movement believes in the Singaporean Core and urged companies to work on building it.

While acknowledging that companies need a diverse team of talents across sectors, cultural backgrounds, and international exposure, he noted that Singaporeans should be given the international exposure in order to rise up the ranks.

Chan added that the labour movement will work with the Manpower Ministry and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to continue to strengthen the Singaporean core.

If your organisation is doing something special with regards to these areas, let us know in the comments below. 

Image: Shuttertsock

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