How to make the sums work for our economy…

lim swee say

When Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say was with the NTUC as its Chief, he had used the formula “1+2=3” to highlight how Singapore is aiming for 3% growth with 1% manpower growth and 2% productivity growth.

Speaking at the NTUC e2i’s annual Employability Fair, Minister Lim once again reiterated the same message, albeit as the Manpower Minister this time round.

But what does this really mean for the Singapore workforce?

In the past 10 years, Singapore has depended on 3% workforce growth and 1% productivity growth to give a 4% economic growth. But Lim shared that this will not be sustainable in the following 10 years.

The Government made measures to curb the number of foreign manpower coming into Singapore over the past few years.

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At a media event after he took over as Manpower Minister, Lim even said: “We have reached a point of no return. If they (employers) keep hoping that the Ministry of Manpower will revisit our policy on foreign workers to treat them special, give them higher quotas and so on, that is not possible.”

Hence, moving forward, the only way to keep Singapore’s economy going forward is to focus on productivity.

How should this be done?

The only way is for all parties to put their foot forward and make jobs and workers productive.

How should workers become more productive? This can be done in two ways, through self-upgrading of skills and employers putting their workers through courses to upgrade their skills.

Not only does this allow workers to be productive in their jobs, but it allows them to feel positive about their contributions.

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How should employers make work places more productive?

This can be done in the form of re-designing workplaces. Perhaps some job functions can be mechanised through the introduction of computers, robots or technological equipment, to make it less labourious. That way, the worker’s job is made faster and more productive.

Similarly, the government can help aid workers and employers jump on the productivity bandwagon.

The government has introduced the Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme which allows companies to enjoy tax deductions or allowances for productivity activities implemented within the company.

But perhaps more schemes can be introduced to allow companies to implement productive and innovative work practices at the workplace in order to make jobs smarter, safer and better.

Yes, one plus two will give you three. But the only way for this to work, is for workers, employers and government to work hand in hand to give you three, and that three comes in the form of a unique partnership called Tripartism in Singapore.

 

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Arthur Lee

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