Transforming our workforce

Business Times, Monday, 30th Apr 2012


How have Singapore’s workers progressed in the almost five decades since Independence? What are the major challenges they now face, and what needs to be done to address these challenges?

SINGAPORE’S evolution since Independence has been truly remarkable. The nation has catapulted into First World status within a single generation solely due to the strength of its people. Indeed, Singapore boasts a high-quality workforce characterised by a high level of education. These days, the majority of Singaporeans entering the workforce are armed with diplomas at the very least, with their sights set on the top of the ladder. As a result, we are seeing a firm trend that these highly educated individuals do not want to take on low-paying jobs, especially if they entail menial, manual work.

Businesses have been griping about the shortage of workers in certain sectors for some time now and this labour crunch has paved the way for foreigners to come in and take on the jobs that Singaporeans shun. As the market opens up to more foreign talent coming onto our shores, Singaporeans have found themselves also competing for white-collar jobs with these qualified foreigners. Singaporeans are currently at risk of becoming less competitive in the workplace as foreigners generally bring with them a stronger work ethic, often more willing to go beyond the call of duty as they are just thankful for the opportunity to work here.

To address Singaporeans’ concerns, the government has recently stepped in and tightened the quota for foreign workers, among other measures. However, there will still be foreign talent in our midst and I believe Singaporean workers will need to stay on top of their game so as to not lose their competitive edge.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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