The objective of my study is to research and reflect on Singapore’s current labour market. My research relied on statistical data published by Singapore government, peer reviewed journal articles and published newspapers.
Section one analyses Singapore’s current market place for graduate employment opportunities and how the labour market has transmuted over years. Section two dwells into my intended career plan, suitability for the chosen position and my strength and weaknesses related to the position. It also discusses about the areas where I must improve and the ways to overcome my weaknesses in order to meet all the requirements for position of Production Planning Manager.
Singapore founded by Stamford Raffles in January 1819 was initially a small fishing village where thousands of Malay fishermen and few Chinese farmers resided and was a poor Third World country with a population of 1.58 million and an unemployment rate of 14 percentage (Quah J. , 2015). Today Singapore ranks second in labour market efficiency (WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, 2018) and employment enlargement was one of the major factors in achieving it. The employment share during 1970 was 30 percentage and showed a drastic amelioration to 75 percentage during 2000s (Tat & Toh, 2014). The gross national income of Singapore is US$52,600 per capita, as of 2017, which is an outstanding escalation by 56 times as of 1960 where it was only US$1310 per capita (The World Bank, 2017). Technology innovation, industrial re-structuring and related policies are significantly altering the existing nature of manufacturing, biotechnology, automation, nanotechnology, education services and IT technology sectors (Wong, Millar, & Choi, 2006).
2. An overview of current labour market in Singapore
Current labour market showed progress as the employment rate had doubled from the previous year’s rate that is from 6500 to 15,200 (Ministry of Manpower, 2018).
Figure 1: Total employment growth, 2018
Even though the overall employment rate stepped up, there was continuous inflow of job seekers into the labour market. This led to the rise in unemployment rate from 2.0 to 2.1 percentage. 67,000 residents and 59,100 citizens were unemployed during the third quarter of 2018 (Ministry of Manpower, 2018).
Figure 2: Overall unemployment rate, 2018
The retrenchment rate has lowered from 3400 to 3030 in third quarter of 2018 (Ministry of Manpower, 2018).
Figure 3: Retrenchment rate, 2018
2.1 Influx of Foreign talents
Due to the influx of foreign talents Singapore’s labour market has become very competitive. There is high dependence on foreign labour as it tends to be cheaper, willing to settle for a job with lower salary as compared to locals and committed to work for longer hours. From 2010 to 2015 there was 23 percentage increase that is from 1.11 to 1.37 million in number of foreign workers in Singapore (Government of Singapore 2015) and 76 percentage increase in S Passes granted (Ministry of Manpower, 2017).
Figure 4: Distribution of foreign workers in Singapore
The government continuously put efforts to employ young Singaporeans in Manufacturing sector by increasing the foreign worker’s employment transaction cost, so as to reduce foreign intake and give Singaporeans a bigger platform for job scope (Waring, Vas, ; Bali, 2018). Some of the methods through which government actively control the foreign intakes are:
(i) The number of foreign workers employed must not exceed dependency ceiling.
(ii) Based on salary government issues different types of work permit which have different rights.
(iii) For the employment of foreign workers employers must meet the levy imposed on it (Ministry of Manpower, 2017).
The government also announced Fair Consideration Framework in 2013 which prioritise Singaporean applications mainly considering young graduates before they consider expatiates. With the implementation of these policies the Total foreign workforce has reduced in 2017. Future prosperity in Singapore’s manufacturing sector could depend on attracting graduates and other young people to pursue a career within the industry. This represents a more expensive alternative for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that rely heavily on cheap foreign labor to compete on cost.
Figure 5: Total number of foreign workers in Singapore, 2017
2.2 Population and high inflow of job seekers into the market
13 percentage of labour force includes residents aged 60 and above, which is more than double (5.5%) in 2006 (Ministry of Communications and Information SG, 2016). There is lesser probability for this ageing population to move out or resign and thus becomes a barrier for young graduates in getting employed or for their career development.
Government intensely spends on education as their expenditure hiked from $63.39m in 1959 to $12,660 in 2016 (Quah J. , 2018) and thus the overall literacy rate hit 97.05 percentage is 2016 (The Global Economy, 2017). The number of degree holders in the Labour market raise which made the market competitive and young graduates finds it challenging to get employed (Ministry of Manpower, 2018). Graduates holding higher qualifications might still need to go for training and retraining in order to fit into the job position they apply for.
Figure 6: Highest qualifications held by youth, 2017
Singapore is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Economy is restructuring, and many companies are withdrawing from Singapore due to this reason. The latest trend is that industries does supervising in Singapore where as the remaining firms will be running in other parts of the world where labour cost, production cost etc. will be lower than Singapore.
Another reason for outsourcing is industries prefer to find specialist who are highly skilled in each individual process to maintain the quality of products. All these factors contribute to the rise in unemployment rate in Singapore. NCS Pte Ltd and Emerio Corporation are few examples of the Singaporean companies that had done outsourcing (Infocomm Media development Authority, 2017).
2.4 Technology replacing manpower
The economy is now driven by technology. The number of robots used in industries tripled from 112,000 in 2006 to 328,000 in 2016 (International Federation of Robotics, 2016). Many blue-collar jobs can now be replaced by robots which could do the repetitive and routine tasks precisely. Past innovations in technology helped both industries and workers without replacing their job as they were installed in areas of physically difficulty or dangerous working environment. Recent developments in automation enables the robots no only to do physical work but posses a working brain which could take decisions and work accordingly with the situations. The International Federation of Robotics predicted that 1.7 million robots will be installed through 2020. This will severely affect the market as most of the human labour will be replaced by automations (Freeman, 2018).