On the first day of debates for the 14th Parliament, many PAP Members of Parliament, including first-term MPs, spoke about securing Singaporeans’ jobs and livelihoods.
Minister Tan See Leng said, “We must always remember that our workers are at the heart of our economy, and we must help our workforce to emerge stronger from this crisis.”
Tan, who is also Second Minister for Manpower, told the House that the MOM is working doubly hard to scrutinise firms that discriminate against local workers. He pledged to give strong support to two key groups of workers- young graduates and mature workers.
Gan Siow Huang, who is Minister of State for Manpower and Education, looked at three types of jobs which have higher proportions of foreigners, which are manual jobs, professional jobs where there are not enough Singaporeans to meet demand, and senior global management roles. She said that for each type, we need a different strategy to get more Singaporeans in those roles. She also called on Singaporeans to make full use of the training schemes available.
Edward Chia, drawing on his experience running an SME (small and medium enterprise), suggested how the government could help businesses survive this period, so that they can keep their workers’ jobs. He suggested helping companies with capital, debt obligations, regulatory issues, cross sectoral collaborations, fair tenancy and so on.
Don Wee noted that polls show local youth are not as interested in entrepreneurship as youths in neighbouring countries. He suggested that government encourage youths to consider entrepreneurship and SME positions. For example, government could allow youth to use their SkillsFuture credits to learn more about entrepreneurship. He also noted the multi-faceted challenges facing lower-income Singaporeans, and urged government to continue our social mobility and meritocracy.
Mariam Jaafar called on companies to look beyond paper and past experience, to give more Singaporeans a chance. She also called on companies to invest in their employees’ learning opportunities, and government to support them in setting up such training frameworks.
Tan See Leng said, “Meritocracy is a foundational principle of Singapore society, and we must demonstrate this to the world by taking a stand against employers that discriminate against workers based on nationality, age, gender or other factors that are irrelevant to the job.”