An opinion piece published by The Straits Times, “As employment anxieties grow, love your job but always have a Plan B” highlights the need for workers in Singapore to be proactive in managing their own career health.
The article points out that with persistent advancements in technology and industry shifts, the nature of each occupation and the requisite skills in the most competitive businesses will continue to evolve. This will require workers to adapt to new demands, such as the need for green skills as more companies adopt sustainable practices.
The article also notes that the increasing adoption of digital technologies by businesses may intensify competition for jobs locally, and disruptions to the job market may stem from shifting workforce aspirations and interests.
The article also argues that navigating this dynamic and unpredictable employment landscape requires proactive career management, including acquiring new skills and expanding networks to transition well.
The authors also call for firms to be partners in this endeavour, updating their staff on global economic and technological trends and preparing them for the needed reskilling to smoothen work transitions and quicken enterprise transformation.
But with all that is said in the opinion piece, which is just a lot of flowery language, the same rhetoric, year after year, but does nothing to address the fundamental problems of our labour policies.
Actually, arguably — the mother of the S’porean workers’ job insecurity problems may have been staring at us, in the face, for decades.
It is just that we continue to live in denial of the issues that employees and job seekers face.
It is arguably, a no-brainer for employers to consider the option of employing a fresh university graduate at S$4,200 (median starting salary), when you can employ a foreigner on an Employment Pass at S$5,000 (from 1 Sep 2023, currently S$4,500)
Given that the foreigner does not require CPF contribution, the employer saves 17% (S$714 (17% x S$4,200)) with the final salary being about the same (S$5,000 vs S$4,914) but more experienced (at least five years or more), more qualified (at least masters degree or higher plus professional certification)
Moreover, the employer is less likely to have to face the situation where their staff will ask for four months of maternity leave as compared to employing a single foreign lady coming from another country.
As for males, there is no National Service reservist liability compared to a local male.
On top of this, they experience fewer turnover problems, as work passes are typically for two years, and employees will typically try to stick with the employer till their passes expire.
Like one former Manpower Minister famously said, Cheaper, Better, Faster!