Technology makes up for loss of manpower

Oxford Economics reported that Singapore's labour supply will shrink by 1.7 percentage points in the 10 years through 2026, resulting in economic growth coming under pressure (Singapore faces double whammy in labour supply: Study; Sept 7).

However, with the advancement in technology and developments in artificial intelligence and robotics, productivity will be increased and, thus, our economic growth will be less reliant on the labour force.

Also, we have seen the impact of the tech revolution on the business world, making some jobs obsolete and more jobs at risk in the future.

For example, the driverless car may well put thousands of registered taxi drivers out of jobs in the next five to 10 years.

Although there are arguments that the tech revolution brings new jobs to the economy, the number of jobs created may not be sufficient to replace the jobs lost.

We should be more concerned about the risk of structural unemployment than a shrinkage in the labour force.

In fact, a slight dip in the labour force may be a healthy adjustment to prevent an increase in the unemployment rate.

I applaud the Government's initiatives such as SkillsFuture and the Career Support Programme, and look forward to more initiatives to help Singaporeans develop skills relevant for the future economy.

Che Pei Chin (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Technology makes up for loss of manpower'. Print Edition | Subscribe