Firms must adapt to changing labour market

The second minister for manpower urges Singapore employers to change their attitudes toward evolving work landscape

Firms must adapt to changing labour market

Singapore employers need to change their attitudes about the evolving work landscape, specifically their unwillingness to adapt and their “desire for stability.”

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said this as she pushed government initiatives like the Industry Transformation Maps, the SkillsFuture movement and the Professional Conversion Programmes.

"Maybe [they are thinking], we can hold out a little bit longer… maybe we do not have to change the way we do our businesses yet,” Teo said during an interview with TODAY Online.

"Companies are used to doing things or working a certain way, and changes do not come quite so quickly. We want to put in place all the schemes and mechanisms that will help the individual adapt so when the change comes, they are able to make the transition more smoothly."

She cited the Work-Life Grant where companies are given up to $40,000 to implement flexible work arrangements. About 1,500 companies signed up for this grant last year.

Another trend is the emergence of the gig economy, even as Teo warns freelancing should be a choice made by workers instead of something to resort to if they could not find regular work.

Teo said it is the government’s job to maintain a flexible labour market where freelance workers may switch to regular jobs.

The 200,000 freelancers in Singapore make up a “stable” 8% to 10% of the total workforce, Teo said.

The tripartite group set up by the government last year is finalising its recommendations on how to address the concerns faced by workers in the gig economy.

Some of the concerns raised were:

  • lack of written contracts, which becomes an issue in the event of a pay dispute
  • prolonged loss of income if the workers suffer significant injury while doing freelance work
  • lack of retirement and healthcare savings
  • contributions to the Central Provident Fund

Related stories:
Gig economy gaining ground in Singapore
Fresh graduates earning more, prefer temp roles

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