Singapore firms must transform for productivity amid economic uncertainty: SNEF

THOUGH economic conditions have become gloomier, firms should press on with transforming for productivity, said Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) president Robert Yap in his May Day Message on Thursday (Apr 27).

He noted that while Singapore’s economic growth and labour market improved – employment grew while unemployment and retrenchment fell – in 2022, productivity declined and growth is expected to slow this year.

“Nonetheless, with the full reopening of the Singapore economy and other economies in 2023, employers should press on with business transformation efforts to seize new growth opportunities and be more productive,” said Dr Yap.

SNEF is working with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to help employers transform jobs through the Productivity Solutions Grant-Job Redesign and Company Training Committee Grant.

These better jobs need new skills, but there may be skills mismatches, he said. The pilot Jobs-Skills Integrator – a Budget 2023 initiative – will help to address this by aggregating manpower and skill demand for better job matching.

Dr Yap called on both employers and employees to do their part. Employers should proactively train their workers to meet future skill demand, since they better understand skill requirements. Workers should take charge of their own development, work with employers to identify gaps and embrace lifelong learning.

Beyond just jobs, SNEF is working with tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower and NTUC – to provide better careers.

Lower-wage workers can have “clear career pathways with sustainable wage increases and training” through the expansion of the Progressive Wage Model.

SNEF and the tripartite partners will also support Singaporeans’ development for regional and global leadership roles, he added, noting that many regional and national corporations are headquartered here, while more local companies are venturing overseas.

But even as the tripartite partners remain committed to uplifting local workers, Singapore must stay open to foreigners who can complement the local workforce, said Dr Yap.

As “responsible employers”, SNEF will ensure workplace fairness, to maintain harmonious workplaces and thus achieve sustainable growth.

“This would enable every worker to have better jobs, better wages and better prospects,” he concluded.