The headline from Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing’s national broadcast on Sunday is that the government will create 100,000 jobs in 2021 to help Singaporeans cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This figure of 100,000 jobs is obviously very impressive. In January this year, the Minister revealed that 60,000 jobs were created for the local workforce between 2015 and 2018.
So if the government were to create 100,000 jobs next year, that would be laudable.
But it’s only half the story. What about the number of jobs that will be lost as a result of the pandemic?
The Minister only acknowledged that “many Singaporeans have lost their jobs, and more job losses are expected in the coming months.”
So while the Minister is able to confidently forecast that 100,000 jobs will be created, he is mum about the number of jobs that will be lost.
For a fuller picture, we have to turn to Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who said in a Facebook post on 3 June that “we will have far fewer new job openings than jobs being lost – over the next year, and beyond that if we are unlucky.”
In other words, be prepared for more jobs lost than jobs created!
The Senior Minister should know what he’s talking about because he is chairman of the National Jobs Council, newly formed to create jobs and training opportunities. In fact, he made his Facebook post after the council’s first meeting.
So while the figure of 100,000 new jobs is impressive, it is misleading when we consider that it is likely not enough to even replace the jobs lost.
While we cannot say for sure that Minister Chan was trying to pull wool over our eyes, he was definitely only giving us half the story. And knowing only half the story makes us half-informed citizens. Is this the objective?