It has little Current or Future Relevance
The May Day messages from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are, to me, stale even amid his pitch for a fresh approach to face the challenges ahead.
Here is the crux of what Mr Lee articulated:
- As the labour market remains tight, wages have been rising and this is unsustainable
- if there is a crunch, there should be zero unemployment which is not the case. Statistical data is not gospel as I don’t believe it accurately reflects ground realities.
- wages stagnating or falling is not an issue, jobs are
- Singaporeans will need to get used to the idea of slow growth.
- (Singaporeans have always been willing to accept that reality, it is the government that is having issues with it as seen in panic reactions such as coming up with a population growth strategy)
- Make SkillsFuture a reality. The SkillsFuture Credit is targeted at individuals who are already in the workforce.
- I know even fresh graduates from top universities who have been struggling to find a footing for more than two years, losing out to foreigners. Does the government care about them?
- But there can be no denying that acquiring skills attuned for the IoT (Internet of Things) / digital era is critical.
- Why cannot an agency with a database of the unemployed in Singapore be set up where job-seekers can register? Without that, where is the government getting its data for its unemployment figures?
- The Jobs Bank may not fill that gap. I am not sure about the kind of governmental follow-up the database receives. Clarity on how the jobs listed therein are filled in will help. Moreover, it is my impression that all jobs must be listed there without any salary cap.
- Introduction of unemployment payment/benefits will make sure that the government goes beyond talking and initiates serious effort to tackle the issue
In my post yesterday, I had talked about how the government, in its anxiety to boost immigration and population, has been ignoring certain ominous factors that are real — a future where artificial intelligence, automation, digital technology and outsourcing can make jobs scarce. Where will the additional millions of people that Singapore wants go in that scary scenario?
A fresh approach is indeed needed to face the future, but that is something that the Government needs to take without putting the onus on the people.
G Joslin Vethakumar