Singapore — Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has sounded a warning note concerning employment not only in Singapore but also around the world for the next year and possibly longer given the current pandemic, saying that an international “slow and bumpy economic recovery” is to be expected.

However, in the same way that Singapore has succeeded in decreasing Covid-19 infections with everyone cooperating, if the country pulls together “we will succeed if we all play our part. We have to apply this same orientation towards jobs, and more forcefully than ever before”, he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday (Nov 1).

A day earlier, The Straits Times had carried an article from the Senior Minister, to which he referred in his post, entitled “The Global Jobs Crisis And Why We Should Think Longer Term”, focusing on ensuring that there are enough jobs as the central issue of this time.

SM Tharman assured readers that the Government and its tripartite partners are putting full energy and sparing no effort to ensure that Singaporeans who have lost employment due to the pandemic will get jobs again — and not just any jobs at that, since ill-fitting job matches “could mean a significant and permanent reduction in wages, and loss of already built-up skills”.

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For this, he added, employers must be willing to take chances on hiring those who may not have the needed qualifications, and job-seekers should be willing to go outside their comfort zones, which “many have done” and “found satisfaction in their new careers”.

The Senior Minister pointed to the newly-launched, a portal for those entering the job market for the first time and mid-career workers. He said: It aims “to make it as convenient as possible for you to find your way back into work, or to make a career switch. It links you to both jobs and training opportunities, especially in our growing sectors … whether you come ready with the skills and experience specific to a sector, or need to develop them”.

“Everywhere we look around the world, jobs will be the central challenge of the future,” wrote SM Tharman, adding that the possibility that there will be prolonged high unemployment in many countries is a very real one, which has added to the existing problem in many countries where the middle class has stagnated, except in a few countries such as Sweden and Singapore.

And with the pandemic, the necessity of going online has threatened even lower-income jobs, with e-commerce, remote work, and the like causing some service jobs to disappear completely.

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However, he gave the assurance that efforts are being made to secure Singapore’s future.

“The problems are unfortunately becoming entrenched in several other advanced countries. We are making a determined effort to avoid that happening in Singapore. We must be a place where everyone can adapt to new realities, get support to keep learning, see things improve over time, and make the most of life. I’m convinced we will succeed,” SM Tharman wrote. /TISG

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