Is Singapore Protecting Interests of Citizens Amid Rising Unemployment?

The implications of the ongoing trade war have not seeped in yet, but retrenchments in Singapore have gone up and vacancies have fallen as this report points out. Those above 40 are being laid off and young university graduates are finding it a challenge to enter the workforce. The retrenched and the young unemployed deserve better.

This is a double whammy for Singapore where foreigners will outnumber citizens with the Government apparently continuing to nurture its plan to boost population in the country from 5.8 million to 7 million by 2030. If that materialises, life in Singapore will become a nightmare even if every citizen has a job on hand. Already, about 40% of residents are foreigners going by available data.

  • For a country with no natural resources, and dependent on exports as well as on the power of the human workforce, this is a strategy that has served Singapore well.

Over the decades, though, Singaporeans appear to have been dealt the short shrift from education to employment. The Government has failed to develop an adequate local talent pool to meet the critical skilled manpower (particularly in STEM areas) requirements of businesses without having to rely much on the so-called Foreign Talent.

Having some of the world’s best universities in the country and keeping Singaporeans away from them, particularly in STEM-related courses, only demonstrate misplaced priorities.

Singapore has not been infected by the anti-globalisation drive that is increasingly evident in the developed world. They have begun to realize that open borders have led to the influx of foreigners with dubious qualifications. The U.S., for instance, is rightly tightening the H1b work visas, with new focus on highly qualified professionals with master’s degrees.

In contrast, in Singapore, even mere diploma holders and people with questionable skills from overseas have been finding jobs and work visas when local graduates are left unemployed.

Some of My Earlier Posts (Issues raised even four years ago linger)

G Joslin Vethakumar


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