SINGAPORE: In his speech on Budget 2023 on Feb 23, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) talked about the challenges faced by workers, and underlined the need to attract Singaporeans to work in industries that are currently overly dependent on foreign employees.

He noted that the Government has in the past few years, implemented different work pass restrictions to manage the flow of foreign workers and professionals into the country and has also allotted funds to aid local business, increase productivity and become more manpower-lean.

“However, there needs to be more emphasis on attracting Singaporeans to work in industries that are currently over-dependent on foreign workers, such as the marine, manufacturing and construction industries,” Mr Giam added.

And while there are a number of programmes including career conversion and professional conversion initiatives for equipping people who have moved to these industries, there has nevertheless been “less success in urging our local workers to switch to these industries in the first place.”

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Therefore, “more needs to be done to address the perception that these industries are less attractive or prestigious than other sectors like finance, technology, and law.“

He addressed the common perception that Singaporeans have no interest in working in the underserved fields because of long hours, shift work, low pay, and difficult working conditions, but added that food delivery jobs show that many Singaporeans “are willing to work in physically demanding jobs.”

Mr Giam said that these jobs may be dangerous, as about one-third of delivery riders have been involved in accidents requiring medical attention. Additionally, they receive a medial income that is less than $2,000, according to research from the  Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

“The IPS paper also found that the platform delivery workers who intended to leave the food delivery industry for other industries were looking for higher salaries, longer-term career pathways and opportunities to learn new skills in their next jobs. A  significant number were seeking flexible work hours, although less than a third were looking for jobs in airconditioned offices,” the MP noted.

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Should benefits be added to industries that lack local workers at present, more would be attracted to apply in these fields.

Mr Giam noted that with careers such as nursing and early childhood education, some success has been made in drawing more locals.

“The same effort should be undertaken to upgrade other industries that are facing local  worker shortages,” he said.

“Our success in reducing dependence on foreign workers and professionals heavily relies on being able to raise local talent in these occupations. By providing better pay, training and career pathways, and better work-life balance, and by increasing  awareness of these industries among young people, we can attract more locals to work in these industries and reduce our dependence on foreign workers,” he said.

His speech can be viewed in full here.

/TISG

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