Speaking at Republic Polytechnic’s (RP) graduation ceremony on Tuesday (2 May), Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said that should Singapore be hit by higher unemployment, it will be because of a shortage of skills as a result of the widening jobs-skills mismatch — and not a lack of jobs.
However, he said that the government is determined not to let it come to pass, saying, "We are not going to allow this to happen to us."
He said that to succeed in this journey, the government will have to help businesses transform faster, and Singaporeans adapt better. Otherwise, he said that the mismatch between jobs and skills will widen as we run faster.
Mr Lim then stressed that Singapore has in place major national programmes such as the SkillsFuture movement and the Adapt & Grow initiative, which helps those without work adapt to changing job demands and acquire the necessary skills to find new jobs.
He said, "Our commitment to you is to help all our people to keep learning new skills, adapting to new jobs and developing new careers, throughout your lives. As individuals, I hope you will commit to play your part too".
Mr Lim also mentioned a growing fear around the world that technology may eventually take over more jobs, making many more workers redundant.
He then pointed out that technology will concurrently create many "jobs of tomorrow", ranging from data analytics and cyber security to robotisation engineering, revenue management and innovation development.
He then stated that for the country, the choice is clear. "We want to be among the winners, not losers,” he said.
He stressed that Singapore is determined to be at the forefront of technology exploitation, making better and faster use of innovations ahead of the competition, adding, "This is so that we can create not just more jobs, but better jobs and better careers for all our people, young and old".
Many readers commented on this issue by stating that the Manpower Minister has been dishing out the same rhetoric over and over. They said that one thing for companies to do is to hire local talents, instead of giving all the jobs to unskilled "foreign talents".
Here are what some of them wrote:
- Makinen Goh wrote, "Spend so much money on Studies get Certificate means no skills?
Then whats the point of going to school?
If companies keep hiring Foreigners due to Money issues, then how you want the locals to get work life skills?"
- Rani Deva wrote, "No skills! Foreigners so skilled is it? Singaporean can't find a job but look around how many FT working here. Give local a job and let them proof if skilled or not, instead of 2 weeks grace period excuse, to employ FT."
- Dannis Lee wrote, "Simple logic. He is telling all our Singaporean students to enrol into ITE and get a skill. No need to go University. Anyway, the high paying jobs are reserved for FTs. Local must remain lowly educated so can be easily manipulated."
- Esther Lee wrote, "Thanks, Mr Lim and yes, it's very thoughtful of the government to create better jobs for the people but a good government must also make plans and jobs for people without those skills. Not everyone is born the same, not everyone is able to acquire the government expected skill set and that doesn't mean these people should be ignored or left jobless."
- Edward Thiah wrote, "If Singapore really a shortage of skill now do not tell me our government did not foresee it?! Why can't our World-class Universities provide such courses?! I believe if we have such courses provided we should have enough local talents to fill up the job rather than depending on so many foreign talents!"
- Colvis Tan wrote, "Are those grads u just given out certs are all outdated in their course taken? So u telling those grads that they not fit into jobs? So the education system given out course are outdated for those last decade? So where you are foresighted blind?"
- Arfandi Azzahar wrote, "Sigh, stupid headline. Just out to click bait. It should be called, skills mismatched, not shortage of skills. Skills in general are abundant, but required by the industry and economy, there is a mismatch there. We still have universities churning out students with skills that, sadly very much less in demand. So when they go out, they realise, the amount of jobs available for them isn't available."
- Peter Hong wrote, "Ten years ago when the IT arena open, our education still see on text book to study. Now then we realised that we lack the field of electronics and technologies talent, what a joker?"
- Pan Eric wrote, "Keep on getting FT in, the locals will be having hard time, you know it, stop talking nonsense, everybody knows about it. Is just a simple math and you have to speak so much, for what ?"
- Jason Lee wrote, "Let be brutally frank. The type of skills aren't just simple course you learn from skillfuture and employers miraculously need.
Usually is high barrier of entry and take large amount of money/time to invest."
- Erick Ho wrote, "Create more jobs?
Also create more social clubs and increase more fruit machines and " mini casino" especially cater to milk old folk and retired saving?
Football clubs and ntuc social clubs, aren't they doing that now??
It is disappointing that ge15 we didn't do the right thing.
And send him to retirement.
- Michael See wrote, "Stop ur wayang. You bring in foreigners to take the job of citizens for so many years, a generation of skilled work force already taken jobs as taxi drivers, security guards, agents etc. Of course with the fast change in technongy, they already don't have right skill long ago.
Stop bluffing yourself. Look at skill future, they are conducting courses either I already known decades ago or they are so simple it won't improve any employable skill and many are just waste of time.
The FTs you open to, so many are not that highly skilled or top corporate movers and they are paid so well, so much, so many, can up root their whole family to SG and live a higher middle-income level on a single income! Wonder how many skill Singaporeans are with such earnings??
You have all statistics to verify if correct. Enough wayang."
- Freddie Seah wrote, "The government is doing things in the reverse. There are jobs where the basics need to be done before data analytics or advanced technology needs to take place eg. Computer infra needs to be set up and managed. These jobs don't need special but foundation IT skills. These jobs are given to foreigners instead of local. While you need highly skilled foreigners to fill the highly skilled jobs and while beefing up the local skills to take over. They have been doing this wrong reverse for so long that it is difficult to eradicate the problem that is causing local employment to be high."
- Rajan Rajamanickam wrote, "Time in a memorial this nut of a guy has been dishing out the same rhetoric over and over again. Meanwhile, he has amassed a fortune legally paid by taxpayers. How is it that our highly paid ministers never anticipated about how to prepare the citizens for future economy and redundancy?"
- Steven Lee wrote, "The root of the problem....high operating costs; transport increase, car park increase, utility increase. Everything increases. The businessman will employ a cheap foreigner (so-called foreign talent) so that they can survive. Training upgrading deep skilling reskilling will be useless when a business cannot survive. We can't blame employers totally. When everyone is being squeezed by someone all the way on top."