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Uplift and protect Singapore workforce

05 Mar 2019 2 min read

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The Government, unions and employers have agreed to raise the retirement and re-employment ages to beyond 62 and 67 respectively, said Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo.

Sharing this update in the Committee of Supply debate, Mrs Teo described the tripartite consensus as a “significant milestone”. The Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers will now work towards an agreement on how far and how fast the ages should be raised.

Mrs Teo said the workgroup recognised that a higher retirement age will motivate both workers and employers to invest in skills upgrading and job redesign for older workers, as people enjoy more years of good health. The workgroup also noted that increases in the retirement and re-employment ages should be implemented in small steps so that employers can make considerable adjustments.

“Our economy is diverse, both in terms of business models and operational needs. Workers, too, have different preferences. We must therefore avoid being overly prescriptive when setting new rules,” Mrs Teo said.

Mrs Teo also announced that the qualifying salary for locals will be raised to $1,300 in July, for companies who hire foreigners. This, Mrs Teo said, is to keep pace with rising wages. She added that the Government will continue to support companies as they become more manpower-lean, through initiatives such as the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme, which provides some flexibility for companies to employ more foreign workers while they train locals to do more high-value jobs.

Separately, Minister of State for Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad shared that the wages of low-income workers have grown as the Singapore approach of providing multiple layers of support have been able to meet the varied needs of individuals.

Giving an update, Mr Zaqy said that real wages of workers at the 20th percentile grew by 24 per cent, between 2012 and 2017. This is faster than incomes at the median which grew by 21 per cent, he noted.

To tackle inequality and ensure social mobility, Mr Zaqy said the Government have focused on three strategies to achieve such outcomes.

  • Maintain a thriving economy with a tight labour market and create better jobs
  • Strive for quality growth based on productivity improvements
  • Support lower-income workers to ensure they can progress with the rest of the workforce

One such key initiative, Mr Zaqy said, is the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme, which is being enhanced to help more workers. He pointed out that the enhancements of the WIS scheme will see almost $1 billion being paid out to close to 440,000 WIS recipients next year, including some self-employed people.

“This cost of wage supplement is borne fully by the Government, with no cost passed on to employers and consumers. Importantly, we achieved significantly faster real median income growth and ranked high on employment rates compared to other developed countries,” Mr Zaqy said. 

Image Credit: Singapore Ministry of Manpower Facebook