Looks like things are starting to look a little grim.
The Ministry of Manpower released the Labour Market Report for the first quarter of this year (2016), and it really looks quite negative.
- Long-term unemployment rate increased from 0.5% to 0.7%.
- Employment grew by 13,000, but significantly lower than the same period in 2013 and 2014.
- Number of workers made redundant (4,710) was the highest first quarter redundancies since 2009.
- While job openings outnumber job seekers (103 openings per 100 job seekers), it is the lowest since June 2012.
And again, just yesterday (14 June 2016), the Public Service Division reported that civil servants will get a 0.45 months mid-year bonus, lower than the previous year of 0.5 months.
So the signs are pretty clear that the economy is slowing down and we are moving into a period of restructuring.
But anyway, this is not the time for workers to slow down or go into a pity party.
Instead, in order to remain employable individual workers should look towards being more productive.
NTUC Assistant Secretary General emphasised this point on his Facebook in response to the news of the Labour Market Report that “employers and businesses have to first acknowledge and take proactive measures to innovate, embrace disruption/change and build the Singaporean Core amidst the tight/ageing Labour market…”
More importantly, workers need to also progress in their careers not only to earn a better salary, but to find satisfaction in what they do.
Which is why, the government and the labour movement have been pushing for workers to take up courses which help to upgrade their skills, re-skill or second skill.
Whether it is to better one’s skill or to learn another skill in order to make a mid-career switch, there are many programmes and initiatives out there to help Singaporeans.
Amongst many others, the NTUC and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have identified 28 Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) courses and a wide range of short courses to be offered to working people.
There are also close to 9,500 WSQ (Workforce Skills Qualifications) courses available online for Singaporeans to tap on to upgrade themselves or learn a new skill which they can use their SkillsFuture Credits for.
Indeed, now is the time for Singaporean working people to take charge of their careers and employment by upgrading their skills.
The Labour Market Report concluded that:
“Amid softer economic conditions and as the economy restructures, redundancies are expected to rise in sectors affected by weak external demand.”
Before things get even more dire, it might be good for us to begin the culture of training and upgrading.