4 February 2013
ASME proposes National Jobs Index
Saifulbahri Ismail

SINGAPORE: The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) has proposed the setting up of a National Jobs Index, in response to the White Paper on Population.

The association explained that jobs shunned by Singaporeans, but are necessary for Singapore's growth, like construction workers, be rated higher.

Thus, higher indexed jobs should be assigned a lower levy and given a higher quota.

In addition, ASME questioned if Singaporean's discontent towards foreigners is more directed at higher skilled workers.

It argued if it is, then foreign labour quota for lower skilled workers should be re-examined.

ASME said although the average Singaporean has been urging the government to reduce the influx of foreign labour and foreign talent, these two separate groups should be examined in greater detail. 

The quick response from the government to slow down the inflow of both foreign labour and foreign talent has not only made it highly challenging and difficult for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore to hire foreign workers but equally challenging when renewing the passes of their existing well-trained foreign workers.

ASME also added if SMEs are unable to function optimally, they will be forced to downsize or shut down, further reducing the number of job positions available to professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET), perpetuating a vicious cycle.

ASME also urged the government to be prepared to relax its manpower policies, if productivity gains do not materialise.

The association added that the White Paper places overly optimistic demands that productivity gains will far outstrip the historical trend. 

In the past 10 years, Singapore's productivity gain has only been 1.8 per cent, compared to the projected productivity gain of 3 per cent in this decade and up to 2 per cent in the next, which the White Paper envisages.

Although there is clearly scope for productivity growth, squeezing out productivity gains in the face of shrinking margins and resources only leads to rising costs, prices and inflation.

On the population increase, the association said this will mean a larger domestic market, and thus more business opportunities.

But, it said it will be a challenge if the workforce growth is artificially prevented to meet the growing demand.

- Source: Channel News Asia