Screenshot of Lim Swee Say from Facebook video

Commenting on the worsen employment situation in Singapore, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said that more job fairs will not be helpful for the long-term unemployed. Instead, the government will focus on “targeted help” to assist those who have been unemployment for more than 25 weeks:

“Unemployed professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) will get more targeted help in finding jobs through smaller job fairs. The shift in focus aims to help jobless PMETs find work sooner, and keep the long-term unemployment rate in check. For PMETs who have been out of work for six months or longer, organising a job fair with 10,000 jobs won’t solve the problem. These workers need personalised guidance from career coaches and employers who are willing to hire and train them, even if they lack experience in a sector. The longer they stay unemployed, the harder for them to come back.”

The Manpower Minister also commented that employers should stop looking for the “perfect” candidate:

“Don’t keep looking for so-called plug-and-play kind of workers. Don’t keep looking for workers who can fit into your job 100 per cent.”

In the latest employment report, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) were the hardest hit with them forming 72% of those retrenched in 2016. The rate of retrenched PMETs re-entering the job market is only at 44%, with the rest still jobless.

The Manpower Ministry’s response to the acute increased in retrenchment is a “training allowance” and giving employers cash as “wage subsidies” to employ the Singaporean unemployed.

Minister Lim Swee Say also added that he is not going to loosen the foreign worker quota due to the high rate of unemployment:

“It is not a sustainable solution. The jobs are there. If they cannot find workers, can we transform the job, make it more of a better job to be more attractive to locals? Moving forward, the quality of jobs is a factor that is going to determine whether we are able to overcome this potential stickiness in our unemployment rate.”

The Singapore government imported some 2 million foreigners from 2005, offering them permanent residency, citizenships and work passe, due to a 6.9 million population target. Wages for the low income and middle class have been stifled by the influx of foreign labour. Unlike Australia, there is no English test or accreditation of foreign certificates required in Singapore to qualify for a visa. The poorly-planned immigration decision resulted in a built-up of workers from India, China and Philippines – reducing the country’s productivity growth to a record low.