Who’s helping workers to get forward from today to tomorrow?

Workers Raffles Place

Singapore’s last recession was in the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The banking crisis in the US caused a lot of commotion and greatly affected Singapore’s economy mid-2008 and caused the country to slip into recession. This was hailed as Singapore’s worst ever recession.

Today, the economy outlook seems bleak and we might even be on the brink of a recession. But will it be as bad as the recession in 2008-2009, or will it be worse?

According to the Manpower Ministry, 16,880 and 23,430 workers were made redundant in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Till date, 13,610 workers have been made redundant in 2016.

During the 2008 and 2009 Global Financial Crisis, the Labour Movement mobilised its forces and went on the offensive to help workers who were being retrenched.

It spared no effort in getting workers to re-skill and upskill  and enhance their employability through the SPUR (Skills Programme for Upgrading & Resilience) and Jobs Credit Scheme.

It also worked with employers to be aligned with the Labour Movement’s key priorities of cutting costs to save jobs and staying committed to long-term employment objectives.

Also, workers who were displaced from an electronics company were ferried in bus loads to other companies within the same sector to place them in available jobs.


The then Labour Chief Lim Swee Say in his 2009 National Day Message said:

“at the workforce level, we can enhance our labour productivity potential by transforming the Singapore Workforce into one that is much more employable, multi-skilled and adaptable than workers in other countries.”

All the efforts paid off because Singapore bounced back as its economic recovery outpaced advanced and key  Asian economies from 2009.

Fast forward to 2016, what is being done for workers this time round?

Going by the numbers, it is quite telling that we might just exceed the total number of workers made redundant in 2008. The Manpower Ministry’s Labour Market Report released a month back showed an increase in unemployment and redundancy.

Chan Chun Sing U HR Dialogue

Responding to that, current Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing shared that the preparation for disruption should not be a spoon-fed solution by the Government or the NTUC, and that workers have a part to play.

“We don’t want any of our workers to be complacent, to think their current skill set, their current jobs, will last forever.”

Indeed, it is untenable to think that the current skill set that you have today will last forever.

Thus, Chan added that the NTUC is once again mobilising itself through its extended network to work with Government agencies to strengthen the system to “identify current job vacancies as well as opportunities that may not be on the market yet.”

“The intention is to shorten the time workers take to re-enter the job market, because the “longer they stay out of the job market the harder it is for them to get back (in)”




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