Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say has reiterated that tight regulations on foreign labour will remain.
After a month of consultations with the business community, the Ministry will adopt a pro-worker, pro-business position. “If we were to behave like a mere regulator and adopt a regulator’s mindset, we will not be able to progress” explained Lim.
In order to continue operating in such a lean manpower environment, businesses are suggested to adopt best practices from abroad, integrate technology and refine their human resource polices in order to attract and retain Singaporean workers.
The Minister also hinted at policy tweaks to be released in the coming months that will help businesses acclimatise to this new environment. “My objective now is to help businesses adapt through positive incentives, rather than negative incentives (legislation)”.
However, the Minister pointed out also that operating on lean manpower does not equal to fewer jobs. Rather through tripartite co-operation, the minister hopes to turn the manpower shortage into opportunity to help companies sharpen their productive edge.
For the past few years, Singapore had been operating at 3% manpower growth at 1% productivity, giving us 4% GDP growth. Moving forward, manpower growth is targeted to decrease to 1% growth and productivity is targeted to improve to 2% and this will be forecasted to give us 3% GDP growth.
Lim reminded employers that the strict policies are because the Singaporean to foreign labour ratio is at 2:1. If the population is not controlled, the rate will increased from 1:1 and eventually Singaporeans will be outnumbered by foreigners.
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