Here is a report of what our Labor Chief Lim Swee Say said at a forum on Saturday:
"A big concern is a mismatch between workers' skills and what's demanded by
employers. Mr Lim said low-wage workers are vulnerable to structural
Another group is the Professionals, Managers and Executives
He said the last 15 years have seen a concerted effort to train
And the current focus on achieving sustainable and
inclusive growth is an extension of this goal." - Report in Today[Link]
Lim Swee say blames the structural unemployment problem on a "mismatch" of skills between job seekers and what employers are looking for. He then proceeds to conclude that the answer to our structural unemployment problems is retraining.
Structural unemployment has been a serious problem for the last decade and the severity of the problem is rising. Yet the PAP leaders refuse to see what is so plain and clear to everyone else and continues to prescribe a solution that had achieved so little results as the prblem grows.
Singapore underwemt great economic transformation in the 60s , 70s and 80s right up to the 90s. We moved from low cost manufacturing to electronics manufacturing to IT services and so on. We did not experience severe structural unemployment right up to the early 90s. While older workers were vulnerable during economic downturns as they are today, they are re-hired during economic recoveries when the labor market tightened up and employers had no choice but to tap the older workers to expand their businesses. Older workers got their chance in the good times and employers were willing to retrain them for job and kept them if they were able to perform. That was why structural employment never grew to become such a big problem in the past.
Since the late 90s, the PAP opened the floodgates to foreign workers. Employers have access to an unlimited pool of young workers from India, China and the Phillipines. When the economy picks up, employers don't have to hire older workers but young foreign workers that can be hired and retrenched easily.
Lim Swee Say's point that structural unemployment is due to a mismatched of skills if that isso, then why are the low wage workers most badly affected? These low wage workers have less skilled jobs and are the easiest to retrained to another low skilled jobs so why are they hit the hardest? The real reason is not skills but the availability of younger foreign workers.
For 15 years the PAP has perscribe retraining for people hurt by structural unemployment. After so much retraining, we find our structural unemployment problems has gotten more severe as time passes. The PAP refusal to face up to the truth and do what is right for ordinary Singaporeans and the continued denial means that the problem can only get worse. With a labor chief like Lim Swee Say, things can only get worse for older Singaporean workers.
It is very common for employers to recruit foreigners on a work permit or S-Pass for two years and at the end of the validity period, send them home and recruit a fresh batch of foreigners for the same tasks ('Don't discriminate against Singaporeans'; Tuesday).
By doing so, employers do not have to contribute to the Central Provident Fund for the employees, pay a yearly increment or bonus, plan a career path or provide employment benefits.
It is not surprising that Singaporeans are often passed over for such positions. Some employers even promise the foreign worker the maximum salary as indicated by the respective types of employment pass; and once the worker arrives here, he is told that a certain portion of the salary (in the form of a certain allowance and not part of the basic pay) will have to be returned in cash to the employer every month (to avoid leaving any evidence for subsequent investigations if a complaint is lodged).
The foreign worker has no choice but to accept the deal or be sent home. Although the levy and minimum salaries for the various employment passes have been raised, it is still cheaper to recruit foreigners than Singaporeans, and employers will continue to utilise the maximum quota of foreign workers allotted to them.
The average Singaporean worker is pickier about employment because he has more arduous responsibilities. The well-being of his family is at stake, compared with a foreign worker who is usually here alone earning a salary that will let his family back home live far more comfortably.
It is easy for employers to excuse themselves from recruiting Singaporeans by generalising that Singaporeans are not willing to take on low-level jobs.
But as long as employers continue to practice the 'cheaper' option, there is no way a Singaporean worker can compete with a foreigner. It is true that businesses exist to make money, and very few can survive on national pride alone (by recruiting citizens only). However, the Government has a duty to ensure there is fair play in the workplace for Singaporeans, and clearly, we need more bite in the current employment policies to ensure employers do not take advantage of such policies to disadvantage the Singaporean worker.