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WP’s Yee Jenn Jong: One thing to have jobs, another to make them relevant for Singaporeans

Singapore — Workers’ Party politician and former NCMP Yee Jenn Jong has addressed the recent “3.5 million jobs for 2.5 million Singaporeans” comment by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Sept 21), he wrote: “There are actually 3.6 million employed in Singapore despite the pandemic which had caused a decline from 3.7 million in the previous quarter.” He added that 2.2 million of those employed are residents (Singaporeans and PRs).

Although the Minister has not elaborated, let me explain what I think of this 3.5 million jobs for 2.5 million…

Posted by Yee Jenn Jong 余振忠 on Sunday, September 20, 2020

“The question is how many of the non-local jobs are meant for or suitable for locals,” he wrote.


Mr Yee noted that there are more than 1 million in the work permit and S-Pass categories, in the lower paying jobs. Referring to jobs in the construction and retail industries, he added, “those jobs are viable for locals but sadly in Singapore, for some industries, our productivity is still at the level as in the 1980s/1990s”.

“Yes, there are 3.5 million and more jobs, for the 2.5 million or so locals in employment or actively seeking one. It is another thing to make jobs relevant to Singaporeans,” he said.

He also questioned why the productivity in some sectors is so low that employers cannot pay higher wages to make the jobs meaningful for Singaporeans.

“Why are Singaporeans losing out in PMET professions and in top jobs? We need to examine this in greater details,” he said.

Mr Yee’s comments came in response to Mr Chan’s statement on Thursday (Sept 18), that Singapore does not believe it will run out of jobs as it has 3.5 million jobs for 2.5 million Singaporeans.

Speaking at a panel on digital connectivity at the Singapore Summit, Mr Chan said that there has been a paradigm shift in that people in the past thought blue-collar jobs were at risk as they can be replaced by robots and automation, but that has changed recently as the world is increasingly realising that “competition is getting tougher for white-collar jobs that can be done over the Internet”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further emphasised these changes, as more people started working from home. He added that this is why even white-collar workers would require lifelong learning in order for them to stay competitive. /TISG

Reference