Forum: Vital to not just save jobs, but also create better ones

I am glad to know that the Budget measures in the last two pandemic years saved jobs and lives, and helped avoid economic scarring (Covid-19 Budget measures saved jobs and lives: MOF, Feb 18).

But I wonder if a larger share of the money spent could have gone to much-needed industries like the healthcare and palliative care sectors.

There remain businesses which are not efficient and are too labour-intensive. Examples include the construction, hospitality and food and beverage sectors, which could be better automated.

Singapore must make full use of this pandemic crisis to review its economic strategies. Industries that are not competitive or are too labour-intensive need to be revamped, if not eliminated altogether, for the sake of the country's future growth.

Labour could then hopefully be trained and channelled to more promising sectors such as robotics, artificial intelligence, digital and Internet marketing, biomedical sciences and biotechnology, and the creative and entertainment industries.

Of course, this is a challenge and not an easy task. Any mismatch of skills would create anxiety for the unemployed.

Singapore cannot depend on past successes and believe that we can do the same thing and be successful again. Others would upstage us and eat our lunch.

The Government cannot always coddle less-productive businesses and risk creating resentment among other entrepreneurs. Singaporeans, especially the younger generation, would be the ones to suffer ultimately.

It is crucial to upskill or reskill the labour force and strengthen companies' competitiveness.

Do not just save jobs. Create better jobs.

Foo Sing Kheng

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