Majority of new jobs created go to Singaporeans and will continue to do so

SINGAPORE – The vast majority of the 32,814 jobs that will be created by new investments in 2019 will go to Singaporeans,  Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday (Jan 16).

During a media briefing on the ministry’s year-in-review and outlook for 2020, he said that 85 per cent of the local workforce consists of Singapore citizens, and permanent residents (PRs) made up the remaining 15 per cent.

This works out to around six Singapore citizens for every PR.

Reiterating numbers cited by Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament in January, Mr Chan elaborated that the 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) rolled out progressively since 2016 cover 80 per cent of Singapore’s workforce.

Of the new jobs created in these sectors, 39,300 had gone to citizens, and 8,600 to PRs – a ratio of about 5:1. The ratio varies from sector to sector.

Over time, with more jobs created and more Singaporeans being trained, they may one day take over the top job that was once occupied by a foreigner, he added.

He also noted that local employment increased by nearly 60,000 between 2015 and 2018. Around 50,000 of this went to Singapore citizens and 9,000 to PRs – again, a ratio of about 5:1, he said.

While it is still slightly lower than the local-to-foreign workforce ratio, he said this is because PRs have been “pre-selected”.

Most unemployed applicants will not be able to obtain PR in the first place, he explained.

“They are also generally of working age compared to the spread of Singaporeans (in their 20s to 60s), which is much wider in demographic distribution.”

He added that the unemployment rate of Singaporeans and PRs is similar.

Earlier in January, Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh asked for the number of new jobs filled by Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners for each industry covered by the ITMs.

Replying, Mr Zaqy had revealed that between 2015 and 2018, total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) in these sectors grew by 19,500. This figure was made up of an increase in employment of Singapore citizens by 39,300 as well as of PRs by 8,600, and a decrease in employment of foreigners by 28,500.

Mr Chan gave the assurance on Thursday that the majority of 32,814 jobs coming on-stream in the next three to five years would go to Singaporeans.

This is due to an unexpectedly large amount – $15.2 billion – in investment commitments in Singapore in 2019, exceeding the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) initial estimate of between $8 billion and $10 billion.

In 2018, the country drew $10.9 billion in fixed-asset investment commitments.

The minister said that many of the new jobs are expected to be in the digital economy, as well as services and manufacturing industries.

But there is no room to be complacent, he said, as there is global competition for talent in sectors such as infocomms, robotics, advanced manufacturing and deep technology.

While he is optimistic that younger Singaporeans are equipped to thrive in the new economy, he noted that older workers left school many years ago and are in urgent need of a skills top-up.

He said the Government will announce more support for older workers in the upcoming Budget, so that they can seize opportunities in new sectors.

“We fully understand the pressures on our workers who are in their 40s and 50s.

“In the coming Budget, we can expect to do more and do better for this group. We will intensify and strengthen our efforts for them to upskill and re-skill.”

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