Singapore is Building a Competent Workforce

  • Singapore wants to build a competent local workforce complemented by foreign talent
  • As border restrictions are relaxed, tight labor market conditions could ease
  • Government is monitoring labor supply and energy costs which feed into inflation

Dr. Tan See Leng, Singapore’s Minister of Manpower, was a guest at Nomura Investment Forum Asia 2022. Joining virtually from Geneva, he spoke about Singapore’s continued efforts to build a competent local workforce complemented by foreign professionals.

“Developing a strong Singaporean core is a priority for the government,” he said, as it looks for ways to increase its labor force’s productivity and upgrade its skills. “We also recognize that our local workforce alone is not sufficient to meet the needs of companies.” And that’s where an emphasis on high-quality foreign talent comes in.

A tight labor market in Singapore, partly brought on by the pandemic and the resulting reduction of non-resident workers, has meant there are 2 jobs available for each job seeker – a multi-decade high. As border restrictions ease and there is more mobility of labor from overseas, Dr. Tan expects some of these conditions to ease.

That said, wages in Singapore are expected to continue to grow and companies could in turn pass these to consumers. “We will keep a close watch on indiscriminate profiteering,” he said.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused global food shortages, while China’s lockdowns as the country pursues its zero-Covid policy, has resulted in supply disruptions. Singapore being closely integrated into the global economy, cannot avoid these global headwinds and inflationary pressures. The government is also cognizant of protracted supply chain disruptions affecting labor demand, said Dr. Tan, who is also the country’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry.

Inflation is a point of concern for the government. It is constantly monitoring components such as labor supply and energy costs as it tries to ease the pain for low-wage workers and Singaporeans whose daily lives are being affected by these cost pressures, said Dr. Tan.

Despite the immediate geopolitical challenges and inflationary pressures, Singapore will continue to work towards attracting quality investment and global talent, he said. “Singapore’s success has been built on our connectivity to the world,” he said.

And if global disruptions continue, the country will not hesitate to roll out contingency measures to make sure it offers a safe, secure and sustainable living environment for everyone, he said.

To watch the full presentation, visit the Nomura Forum website (requires guest login).


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