Cost of living and job security top concerns of Singaporeans: Reach's pre-Budget survey

Office workers at Singapore's Central Business District. An annual government survey has revealed that cost of living and job security are among the top concerns of Singaporeans ahead of Budget 2017.
Office workers at Singapore's Central Business District. An annual government survey has revealed that cost of living and job security are among the top concerns of Singaporeans ahead of Budget 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Cost of living and job security amid a slowing economy are the top concerns of Singaporeans, according to an annual government survey conducted ahead of Budget 2017.

"Many were concerned with the high cost of living in Singapore and remarked that this deterred some young Singaporeans from having big families or starting families," said a media release from government feedback unit Reach on Monday (Feb13).

Respondents gave a number of suggestions to create a more conducive environment for raising families, with one asking for Central Provident Fund top-ups to be granted to a woman after giving birth.

Other ideas include increasing parenthood incentives by giving more baby bonuses, improving work-life balance by making flexible work arrangements more common, and making home ownership more achievable by reviewing the cost of a flat and time taken to get one.

A "significant number" also called for more financial assistance to low-income families and the elder, including higher infant, childcare and healthcare subsidies, utility and tax rebates.

"Others urged the Government not to forget the sandwiched middle-class and appealed for assistance for this group," Reach said.

 

On jobs, there were a variety of concerns. Workers aged 45 and above wanted more help to remain employable while young Singaporeans were stressed about getting a job upon graduation given the gloomy economic outlook.

Some also said there was a mismatch in jobs and skills, particularly in the IT sector.

But respondents were divided on the reasons for the situation, with some believing that there is a lack of white-collar jobs.

"Others felt that Singaporeans were just being 'choosy' and that a more realistic attitude was required; while some groused that the education system's emphasis on rote learning and the lack of technical skills was the cause of the gap," Reach said.

Singaporeans also felt that employers need to be more supportive of their workers who want to seek training, with some saying that it should be mandatory to send employees for a minimum number of training hours annually.

Nearly 8,000 Singaporeans took part in the survey that was conducted between Dec 5 last year and Jan 13 by Reach and the Ministry of Finance. About 96 per cent of the feedback was given through face-to-face sessions, while the rest was received through Reach's online platforms.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver the Budget during the Parliament sitting next Monday (Feb 20).