Voices Of Youth

Forum: Firms shouldn't rush to automate

People at Robinson Road in the Central Business District after office hours.
People at Robinson Road in the Central Business District after office hours. PHOTO: ST FILE

Earlier this year, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat announced that the foreign worker quota will be cut (Foreign worker quotas cut to protect S'poreans' jobs, says Chee Hong Tat, Feb 27).

While cutting the quota may reduce the Dependency Ratio Ceiling, the move will handicap local businesses for a considerable time.

Raising wages to make these jobs "attractive" is unlikely as it could lead to wage push inflation. Instead, industries will first consider automation, which would increase the unemployment rate.

Instead of cutting the foreign worker quota for all sectors, the Government could determine which sectors are more attractive to Singaporeans with the required skill set.

The Government could also offer subsidies for companies to hire Singaporeans instead of automating.

As Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has said, the goal is to get a sustainable inflow of foreign workers to complement the Singaporean workforce.

Vindhya Vikash Chugani, 19

Undergraduate year 2

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2019, with the headline 'Firms shouldn't rush to automate'. Print Edition | Subscribe