Mr. S Iswaran, Minister, of the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry has this week outlined three global labor trends and their implications for the country. He was speaking at the annual MTI Economic Dialogue held at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to some 300 students.
Mr. Iswaran outlined the three trends as follows. Firstly, developed economies are increasingly faced with the challenge of rising youth unemployment and an ageing workforce. Secondly, technological changes are making more jobs obsolete and demanding new skills from workers. Thirdly, income inequality has risen across many economies, causing skilled workers to enjoy higher wages while putting a downward pressure on the wages of less skilled workers.
Rising Youth Unemployment, Ageing Workforce
In a bid to address the first issue, Mr. Iswaran said that the government will have to transform the economy. This will then create jobs that are suitable for an increasingly educated Singaporean workforce. Singapore will also need to learn from other countries on how to better tap on older Singaporeans in the workforce.
With regards to technological changes, he said Singapore businesses must be willing to restructure, make better use of technology, and tap on new growth opportunities to remain competitive. Workers must also build up a broad range of capabilities and skills so that they are better able to respond to changes in the job market.
To tackle inequality and become more versatile in responding to changes in the job market, he advised every Singaporean worker to develop a range of capabilities – both technical and generic – in school and subsequently throughout a career.