Singapore — At a visit to a local seafood distributor, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the Government recognizes the cost pressures of the planned increases in the ages for re-employment and retirement, as well as Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for older workers, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech on August 18, Sunday.
Moreover, he said that the Government will collaborate with the Singapore National Employers Federation and unions in order to aid companies to make adjustments for the changes, as well as keep an eye on economic conditions as these changes are made over the next ten years.
The Trade and Industry Minister said,
“We are of course very cognisant of the business cost pressures…but we think it is the correct thing to do for the long term to ensure that our workers have sufficient retirement savings. And also, by lengthening the career, it also allows people who live longer the chance to contribute meaningfully to the society.
The question is, how do we make this transition? If we make the transition too fast, it’s very difficult for the business to adjust, especially in a very challenging external economic environment.
But if you make it too slow, then we will actually deprive many cohorts of older workers to stay meaningfully employed.”
Mr Chan added that businesses will also have to do their part in helping older workers in ways like adjusting work processes and redesigning jobs so that a more inclusive and productive workspace may be created.
And workers as well, he said, should also do their part.
“Every company, including the public service, need to redesign their jobs to employ older workers in a more productive way. Our workers also must play their part, to make sure that they keep pace with the changes in the employment landscape.”
While at the seafood distributor, Hai Sia Seafood, the Trade and Industry Minister used the distributor’s use of automation as an example to show how the new machines are making processes such as scaling, filleting and packaging fish for distribution easier for the employees.
These processes are usually done during night shifts, but since more products are able to be processed at a faster pace, some of the workers may now move from the night shift to the day shift, a change that was welcome for many of the company’s employees.
On his Facebook page, Mr Chan wrote that he was inspired by Hai Sia Seafood’s efforts.
“I visited Hai Sia Seafood, a local SME, this afternoon which has made significant efforts to invest in their older workers. They have undertaken job redesign efforts to cater to their old workers.
For example, one of their long-time workers, Mr Tan was able to go from the night shift to the day shift thanks to Hai Sia Seafood’s new automated machinery. Workers also play an important role as they will have to be willing to undergo training and reskill, like how Mr Tan did. In fact, workers should think about training early, as their careers will likely be long and span several roles.
I am inspired by Hai Sia Seafood’s efforts. They have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a hawker stall in Queenstown and are proof that it is not only large enterprises that can transform. I encourage other SMEs like Hai Sia to take steps towards redesigning their jobs and transforming their businesses. The Government will continue supporting businesses as they embark on these efforts. CCS” / TISG