The Ministry of Manpower released an annual employment report which showed that the number of job vacancies have dropped.
According to the report, there were 116 job openings for every 100 job seekers between July to September 2015, down from 121 openings in the preceding 3 months and 143 openings in the previous 3 months.
In its press release, MOM said the number of job vacancies fell “amid softer economic conditions and continued efforts to restructuring towards a more productive and manpower-lean economy”
But what does manpower-lean mean? And what should a worker do about it in such a situation as a downturn?
In its addendum to the President’s address 2016, the MOM said: “To sustain a nation of opportunity, we need to transit from a manpower-led to a manpower-lean economy.
Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said in Jul 2015 that for the last 10 years, Singapore’s workforce growth was 3%. “As I mentioned, 3% is not sustainable because our local workforce (is) not growing at 3%. For the next 10 years, we’re working towards ‘1+2=3’ – 1% growth in our workforce plus 2% improvement in our productivity to give us 3% growth”.
Mr Lim reiterated his point just yesterday at a CEO roundtable event. To avoid ending up with less than ideal outcomes for the Singapore economy amid the slower growth in the local workforce, companies need to focus on raising productivity levels.
He added that if the Government maintains its manpower-lean strategy but is unable to improve productivity levels, the Singapore economy will be headed for “a prolonged period of low growth”.
In other words, Singapore companies need to look towards improving its productivity instead of increasing its manpower. Otherwise, Singapore’s economy will experience low growth for a long period.
Hence, the best way for companies to start improving their productivity is to have their employees go through training and upgrading of skills.
There is an urgent need for a change in mindset for employers. Without it, we cannot be prepared for the wave of change which is coming. The economic downturn is looming. Thus, to prepare for it, employers need to send their workers for relevant training so that workers can contribute to the overall productivity of the company.
Also, workers need to be prepared for the future. Relevant skills will become more important than the degree which most graduates have.
Hence, to remain employable, employees should also be proactive in attending courses and training to upgrade themselves.
At a media conference on the 2016 Unionised Sector Outlook, NTUC Assistant Secretary General Cham Hui Fong urged employers to provide training or examination leave for employees to make use of initiatives such as the SkillsFuture Credit.
“What we want to do is to really inculcate the training culture within companies,” she said.
In its media release today, MOM also urged job seekers to make themselves more employable and adaptable.
Keeping the economy going is not just the job of the government. Employers and employees are also co-responsible in ensuring that we make Singapore special.