"One is the slowdown in investment in innovation and productivity measures. When the economy grows very rapidly, companies have alot of opportunities to benefit from the growth and the expansion of the economy. So the focus on productivity may be lacking behind. So it is important to refocus attention of companies on productivity growth. There are many measures we can put in place to encourage enterprises to invest in innovation, to invest in research, to invest in benchmarking so that we can raise the overall productivity effort in our economy."- Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong[Link]
.Minister Gan blames it on the economic growth and worker's training. But our productivity has been falling during the economic slump while that of other developed countries like US has been rising[Link]. In manufacturing and hotels and restaurants in particular, productivity has been on the decline since 2006. This is about the same time foreign workers started entering Singapore in larger numbers[Link].
"One reason for the lower productivity may be the large influx of foreign workers in recent years. With more workers available, each worker doesn't have to work as hard."
Businesses want foreign workers mainly because they are cheaper. You can hire 1.5-2 foreign workers instead of a Singaporean. It is easier for managers to get more workers to do the same job rather than train and motivate fewer workers to work more efficiently. Business will always clamor for cheaper labor rather than invest in training, automation and innovation. There will always be sources of cheap labor because the cost of living is so much lower in developing countries. This a vicious cycle as import more foreign workers, these businesses depend on cheap labor will profit, grow and want more foreign workers. These business compete for limited resources like office and industrial space with business with higher levels of automation that hire highly skilled (hence highly paid) labor. The more foreign workers we import to generate growth in these industries, the more foreign workers we will need to bring in the future to maintain our GDP. In 2000, there were about 600,000 foreign workers in Singapore, constituting 27% of the total work force. Today it is 36% of the workforce or 1 million. But the demand for foreign workers keeps increasing [See report below]. The PAP govt took the easy way to expand the economy aiming for high GDP growth by expanding the workforce. In the past they allowed only "foreign talents" with selected skill sets to work here. These days it is anyone from the coffeeshop help to the IT support guy. Falling productivity means a large segment of Singaporeans will their income falling - and an unlucky few will form the ultra-underclass in Singapore....and this race to the bottom has not ended yet. Like the PAP 2-child policy, the PAP govt will keep going even as the problems become apparent to everyone else. By the time they stop, the damage is done and permanent - but nothing ever happens to the PAP for such bad policies, given our political system, the blame, pain and burden can always be passed on to ordinary Singaporeans...
SingaporeHome > Breaking News > Singapore > Story Dec 9, 2009
Foreign workers in demand
Almost half in SCCCI poll say business growth hit by quota on such workers
By Cassandra Chew Contractors and manufacturers, companies that rely on foreign workers, want the Government to allow them to hire more of them. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
COMPANIES that rely on foreign workers want the Government to let them hire more of them, according to a survey. The call is particularly intense from contractors and manufacturers, who feel the quota should be adjusted for specific sectors. Foreign workers form up to 70 per cent of the workforce in these two sectors. Overall, almost half of the businesses surveyed are unhappy with the foreign worker quota policy. They want it raised in order for them to meet orders, which have been increasing in the past few months as Singapore's economy claws its way out of the red.But such a move could hurt Singapore's competitive edge, said economics professor Davin Chor from Singapore Management University. 'Long-run growth depends on the capacity of our economy to consistently improve on our productivity and the way we tap into cutting-edge technologies,' he said.