‘Tighter belts need slimmer companies’ – Manpower Minister

by Miklos Bolza29 Jan 2016
“If I keep tightening my belt ... will my belt become a bottleneck? It depends on whether I become slimmer,” said Manpower Minister, Lim Swee Say, at a media briefing yesterday (28 January).
In light of MOM’s recent employment figures for 2015 – which included one of the slowest employment growth rates since 2003 – Lim said firms needed to learn to cope with the slowdown.
“We are entering into a period of uncertainty,” he cautioned.
While slower employment growth can be seen as a bottleneck as it tightens the belt around local firms, companies can become slimmer by reducing their reliance on workers, he added.
The Minister said that foreign manpower growth will be capped at two per cent annually until 2020. In that time, local growth is estimated to hover around one per cent with firms attracting and retaining more locals within the workforce.
While the total labour participation rate for citizens and permanent residents has increased from 65 per cent in 2006 to 68.3 per cent last year, “there is still scope for [this rate] to go up,” Lim said.
Strategies to accomplish this include attracting more women back into the workforce and raising the re-employment age to 67.
He called upon firms to assist by implementing better HR policies such as job redesign and flexi-work arrangements.
Increasing productivity also remained crucial.
“If Singapore-based enterprises cannot grow profitably, eventually we are going to see a holding out of certain sectors of the economy," he said.
"The job growth will slow down but we hope that the quality should continue to improve. And this would mean good jobs and better careers for the workforce.”
Lim hinted at the government’s continued crackdown on “double weak” firms – those which fail to build up their Singaporean core and which do not contribute to the economy.
“If you are mainly employing foreigners, [and] at the same time [you’re] not making a significant contribution to the economy and society, then what is your role here?”
Related stories:
MOM pushes for enterprise “transformation”
Lim Swee Say on maintaining a two thirds Singaporean core
MOM puts 38 “double weak” firms under scrutiny


  • by Steven 29/1/2016 10:20:27 AM

    There is no point for the Manpower Minister to kindly ask firms to hire more locals i.e. those who are over 50 and women who have left the workforce if there is a lack of legislation. Yes, there are some financial incentives to hire both sets of talents. Put a 2 or 3 month time-frame on firms after a headcount is approved to say, that firms are searching for a local/PR to fill the role. Only after this period, can they look externally. The current 2-week rule is useless in my opinion.

  • by Alex Chong 8/3/2016 12:53:42 AM

    Agree with the Minister that companies based in Singapore needs to build up their local Singaporean core.
    However, it is not easy for certain companies especially small SMEs that struggle to find or attract local candidates with the right skills sets to be part of the Singaporean core.
    I am not sure whether such policy can be applied across the board. I think a case by case approach would be more effective.

Most Read