Mr Victor Mills, the Northern Ireland-born CEO of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC), has used a broad brush to paint a completely negative picture of Singaporeans.
Using just a few bad apples he comes up with a blatant stereotype to toe the Government line with little to show the intent was good. His comments include:
- that the young are just job-hoppers without a good work ethic
- that the +40 ones are stuck in their old ways, not subscribing to continual learning
- that there is not enough good talent in Singapore, making employers shift to Indonesia and other neighbouring countries
- that the labour market is very tight here
- that Singaporeans are a fussy bunch without the magnanimity to accept criticism
- Singaporeans feel that they are owed a living
In short, he has derided the local people in an indirect attempt to make the Government loosen the immigration controls even further so foreigners can outnumber Singaporeans for no rhyme or reason.
I would not agree with most of his points. He may be right on some — that materialism is more rampant here now than when he came here first. What better can he expect in an economy that spins around money!
Employers Fire Staff too Soon as well: Switching jobs too quick is definitely not healthy. But in my 20-year work experience here I have not found that common. If someone leaves quicker than desirable the fault may lie with the company as well. I have seen people get fired within a month of their joining.
If employers can come to such quick decisions if they think that is in their own interest why cannot the staff take a similar approach?
Ageism: It is also too sweeping to say that the 40-plus group is hardly ready to acquire new skills to stay relevant. This is a surprising comment from someone who claims to be fighting ageism in the workplace.
Mr Mills does agree that there is an extraordinary level of ageism in Singapore.
We are in an environment where businesses are constantly seeking ways for boosting profitability and the easiest path for them is by getting rid of the high-salaried, experienced ones! They do so because they have easy access to foreign “talent”.
Social Welfare: Mr Mills also accuses Singaporeans of thinking that they are owed a living. This is too much of a generalisation with little merit in it.
Has he not heard of generous social welfare payments that advanced economies (including the UK, US, Australia and Ireland) pay as unemployment doles? That is based on the idea that countries do owe their citizens a living. There is no such concept in Singapore and its citizens have been stacking up well even as the Government fails to ensure fair employment and education with policies geared against them.
Singapore Too Liberal with Foreign “Talent”: When even fresh graduates are finding it hard to get on the payrolls, how can the labour market be deemed tight? Some skills may be in short supply, and that I would say is because of the failure of the government to build an adequate local talent pool. But businesses are able to fill any gap by easily bringing people from overseas.
With a population of 5.5 million people, Singaporeans account for only around 60% of that. The other 50% are foreigners.
Even in such a large country as the U.S., Americans make up for 80% of the population.
Singapore has thus been way too liberal with immigration, so let not others accuse it of being tight on foreign “talent”.
For more on what Mr Mills says, you may head here.
G Joslin Vethakumar