Forum: Forging a new norm in sectors that rely on foreign labour

A new norm must be forged in the construction sector as well as other industries which rely heavily on foreign labour, skilled or unskilled (Singapore firms and workers should seek new normal, April 20).

For skilled labour, it is not too difficult as it is only a matter of inducing more locals to take up the jobs.

The relatively higher wages will not fail to attract Singaporeans who used to shun such sweaty jobs because they had easier options in the gig economy before the coronavirus crisis struck.

Now that the lesson has been learnt - that jobs in the gig economy are not as secure as those in sectors such as construction - some present and future generations of Singaporeans may be more willing to work in those sectors.

What is difficult is finding locals willing to do the lower-wage and lower-skill jobs done by foreign workers. More automation is necessary and wages must be raised so that locals will find these jobs more attractive.

Above all, it is crucial to shape a new mindset. Society - not just the authorities - should send the message that no job is too lowly or to be scorned.

If labourers in many developed countries can stand tall, there is no reason why they cannot do the same here.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

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