Josephine Teo touches on the Ministry of Manpower’s past, present and future plans for Singapore’s diverse workforce
In her May Day message on Monday (29 April), Singapore’s manpower minister Josephine Teo highlights her ministry’s “biggest strength” in “forging new paths” for employees.
She also summed up the latest on hotly-debated issues in Singapore, including retirement and re-employment of silver workers, foreign labour policy, and tech transformation.
In addition, the minister echoed NTUC’s rallying call to protect low-wage and vulnerable workers.
Singapore’s silver tsunami
A year ago, Minister Teo set up the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers. After careful consideration, the workgroup reached a consensus to gradually raise the retirement age beyond 62 and the re-employment age beyond 67.
“This is a significant milestone that will provide more assurance to seniors who wish to continue working,” she said. “I am confident it will motivate both workers and employers to invest in skills upgrading and job redesign for older workers.”
She assured that the workgroup will provide its detailed recommendations later this year. These will decide “how far and how fast” the retirement and re-employment ages should be raised, as well as the CPF contribution rates for workers aged 55 and above.
“In the meantime, we should continue to make our workplaces more age-friendly,” she said.
Restructuring and foreign labour policy'
Besides the longer-term focus on Singapore’s ageing workforce, Teo also touched on present day labour concerns.
Although local employment grew strongly in 2018, with rising wages, and low unemployment as well as retrenchment rates, the minister said, “there are still workers seeking jobs or career advancement”.
According to Teo, the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) decision this year to tighten the foreign labour quota will ensure Singapore maintains its restructuring pace and “nudge employers to improve job quality” to meet staffing needs.
Another topic she touched on was tech transformation.
“Technology will also change the jobs landscape, presenting both challenges and opportunities,” she said. “We [MOM] will walk the tech journey with our workers, so that they can access good jobs our economy continues to create.”
In her message, she listed the benefits and successes of government programs such as Adapt and Grow, Professional Conversion Programs, and SkillsFuture, in enabling employees to keep pace with the changing nature of work.
Consistent with her calls for collaboration to tide the tech wave, she shared how various agencies have started to implement the 23 Industry Transformation Maps and remained focused on helping organisations innovate and improve productivity.
Uplifting low-wage workers with NTUC
Besides ongoing efforts to push for progress, Minister Teo highlighted the importance of helping vulnerable workers.
She shared that this will done through its long-term partnership with Singapore’s main labour union, NTUC, who have promised to be “both pro-worker and pro-business”.
“Aligned with NTUC’s rallying call that ‘Every Worker Matters’, we will uplift low-wage workers through the 3W framework focusing on Workfare, Workright and Workcare,” she said.
She also touched on the updated Progressive Wage Model, Singapore’s approach to the wage gap. Teo said the PWM has benefitted more than 70,000 workers in the security, landscape and cleaning sectors. It will also be extended to lift technicians over the next three years.
“Tripartism was and remains the biggest strength of Singapore in forging new paths for our workers,” she said.
“Let us re-commit to working together, as one united tripartite movement, to create a brighter future for our people, our businesses and our nation. Happy May Day!”