Indoor labour day event – future of employment for Singaporeans

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Every year during the first of May, NTUC will organise it’s tripartite-alliance labour day event in a indoor venue for selected group of people to attend – unreachable by most ordinary people-in-the-street.

We have tried to organise our own ground-up labour day event since 2013 and with your active participation we will continue to do so yearly.

This year indoor labour day event features seven speakers and among them we find a entrepreneur, businessman, lawyer, financial wizard and even a cabbie. They will provide their own personal view of the employment sector so far.

If you would like to speak at our event, please let us know and we will welcome your input as its a ground-up event.

After the passing of the 6.9 million population white paper five years ago, Singapore experiences a population growth like never before – the population now stands at 5.7 million with almost 1.8 million comprising foreigners.

According to worldometers – a online apolitical world population data site – Singapore’s current population stands at 5.79 million recording a 700,000 population increase over the 2010 recorded data of 5.07 million.

According to the MOM website, there is a total of 189,000 EP work permit holders as of June 2017 against 173,000 in Dec 2012. More significantly, the numbers are marginally down if we compared them to the Dec 2016′s figure of 192,000 – the first decrease since MOM documents the foreigner work permit data.

The S-Pass work permit holders – a lower-end work permit category for retail and service industry – is a healthy 179,000 as of June 2017 versus 142,000 in Dec 2012. The figure is a similar 179,000 as of Dec 2016.

Against a citizen population of 3.4 million, there is also a huge 0.53 million foreign permanent-resident contingent who are constantly competing for valued employment with us.

At our end, we are looking at a 180,000 to 200,000-strong unemployed and under-employed Singaporean group and obviously they are all struggling to survive in a very-expensive living environment.

Right now, on the other side of the equation, more than 200,000 well-educated Singaporeans have work and live abroad with many showing no intention to return anytime soon.

Young recently-graduated Singaporeans are also in the limelight of late as they too struggle to find decent employment in a economy that is struggling to find any direction especially after the cancellation of the much-anticipated TPT last year. Skills mismatch saw many well–paying jobs went to the foreigners and Singaporeans wonder if we have took too long to adapt to the work environment educationally.

Without the proper skillsets, Singaporeans have no opportunity at all to jobs that pay well and companies will not hesitate to hire foreigners to do the job or else they will pack and go off.

Ageing jobless PMETs have a tougher deal and many automatically register to be cabbies or drive Grab with some signing up for the much-coveted security licensing – even though they may have all the degrees and masters as they too need to look beyond their educational status and put food on the table for the family.

We saw a 58-year-old GM who was jobless for almost three years after returning home from abroad and finally he has to eat humble pie and work as a security guard earning $90/day for 12-hour shift. Its a story that resonates with many other well-educated older PMETs who could not fit in to the new economy and thus end up under-employed in order to survive.

With HDB mortgages that often stretch till the maximum limit at age 65 years old, we will likely continue to see many older PMETs struggle to make ends meet resulting in more social problems such as suicides and divorces.

A fifty-something returning overseas-Singaporean also got the hit recently when he could not find work readily despite being in a sought-after IT industry and decides to return to UK for good. Originally, he has the intention to return home so that he could be closer with his 85-year-old ailing mum. He is now considering giving up his citizenship and cut ties with his birth country who could not really take care of his welfare properly.

There are many other stories of Singaporeans getting rejected in their own turf and many wish for better job protection as the government tries to balance the foreign-local employment equation gingerly. Ageism is still the main Archilles’ heel here and as we face a fast-ageing population, it is a time-bomb that waits to explode in the near future.

Join us on labour day as we expound all these difficult issues together – its ugly but that’s the hard truth we have to face. We may not have all the answers but at least we will try to solve them together as a group.

Come prepared to ask questions as there will be a Q & A at the end of the session. Hope to see you Singaporeans…

Written by: Gilbert Goh
19 April 2018

Note: The Agora can be accessible by buses 410W and 52 from Bishan bus interchange and alights at Ai Tong Primary School follows by a 3-minute walk to the location.

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