Opportunities for Singapore workers amid challenges: Finance Minister

The Singapore Government will continue to support workers affected by the economic restructuring, some of which will be outlined in the Committee on the Future Economy’s upcoming report on future-proofing Singapore’s economy.  

Digital disruptions as well as global economic changes will present challenges but also opportunities for Singapore workers, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said recently in his first full-length interview since suffering a stroke in May.

In order to capitalise on the opportunities, he said Singaporeans have to build new capabilities by acquiring new skills.

He added that the Singapore Government will continue to support workers affected by the economic restructuring, some of which will be outlined in the Committee on the Future Economy’s upcoming report on future-proofing Singapore’s economy.  

The report, to be released early next year, will touch on five key themes of the digital economy, as well as jobs and skills needed for the future.

The slow economy is hurting some industries more than others, and companies will have to work alongside government agencies in assisting affected workers to find new jobs and opportunities.

"You need the effort of the workers, you need the effort of the companies and you need the government agencies to support it in the right direction," he said, adding that Singaporeans are undoubtedly concerned about their job security and the economy.

“We need to turn that anxiety into action that will better prepare us for the future,” he said.

The Government has also been preparing Singapore workers for the changing economy through the SkillsFuture movement and other training initiatives.

Singapore’s unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2016 remained low at 2.1%, but Manpower Ministry data also showed the highest number of layoffs since 2009.

The finance sector, in particular, has seen many layoffs. It was reported yesterday (December 19) that Swiss bank UBS Group is retrenching some 20 investment bankers from its Singapore and Hong Kong businesses.

In November, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore was also involved in the organisation’s global retrenchment exercise which saw it reduce its Corporate and Institutional Banking division headcount by 10%.   

According to official statistics, construction, marine and offshore-related industries were hardest hit in terms of downsizing due to the persistent oil price slump. 

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