Dr Robert Yap, President, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)

According to Dr Robert Yap, President, SNEF, this can be done via a three-pronged approach: keep manpower lean; keep workers relevant, and keep the labour market open.

Joining Singapore's Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng in sharing a May day message is Dr Robert Yap, President of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

While the Minister's message revolved around the upskilling of the local workforce and the measures deployed to strengthen employment protections, Dr Yap's message focuses on how SNEF - along with its tripartite partners - will continue to work together to tackle current and future manpower challenges in Singapore, and to sustain its growth for the foreseeable future.

To that end, he believes this can be achieved through a three-pronged 'Keep' approach.

The first is 'Keeping manpower lean'.

Dr Yap explained that this is something employers should do - by leveraging technology - to redesign jobs to free manpower resources, and be productive. For this, he shared, the Productivity Solutions Grant, is one instance which can support employers in Singapore in their lean journey. Beyond employers, such methods can also benefit employees as with redesigned jobs, they have an opportunity to receive higher wages.

The aforementioned, however, cannot work on its own as 'Keeping workers relevant', the second out of the three-pronged approach, is crucial in complementing it.

This is because redesigned jobs "would require new or higher skills", Yap explained. Hence, workers "would need to embrace upskilling and reskilling" to take on these jobs. That said, employers still have a role to play in ensuring that their workers' skills remain relevant - which is why SNEF strongly supports the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) in forming more Company Training Committees to partner employers in training workers to meet their skill demands.

Read also: 9 recommendations to help PMEs in Singapore with employment and employability: NTUC & SNEF

The last is 'Keeping labour market open'.

"Due to slower local workforce growth, Singapore's labour market needs to remain open to foreigners who can complement and supplement our local workforce," Yap explained. As such, employers need access to foreign manpower to address skill shortages and gaps to keep the Singaporean economy as "one of the most competitive in the world".

Nonetheless, Yap reminded employers to continue developing the Singaporean core to strengthen and retain their core capabilities by tapping on government schemes such as the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programmes, and the Singapore Global Executive programmes.  

In closing, Yap reiterated that every worker matters in Singapore. "SNEF and our tripartite partners endeavour to make workplaces more progressive and inclusive so that various groups of workers, including the older workers, the lower-wage workers, and the PMEs, can have better jobs, better wages, and better prospects.

"This would enable Singapore to maintain our competitiveness and workplace harmony to sustain economic growth for a brighter future for all," Yap said.

"On behalf of employers, I wish all workers a Happy May Day!"

Read alsoSingapore aims to improve the wellbeing of lower-wage workers through PWM, Tripartite Standards, and PW Mark


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