Job-matching system needs to be improved, says DPM Heng Swee Keat

DPM Heng Swee Keat (centre), together with Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (left) and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (second from left) at the Samwoh R&D Centre on Oct 7, 2020.
DPM Heng Swee Keat (centre), together with Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (left) and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (second from left) at the Samwoh R&D Centre on Oct 7, 2020.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - The matching of job vacancies with job employees is not a straightforward process, and the system has to be improved, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (Oct 7).

He was speaking to members of the media at construction firm Samwoh Corporation's research and development centre in Kranji, after the release of the latest jobs situation report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

One key finding of the report was that despite the National Jobs Council creating 117,500 jobs, training and attachment opportunities here, which exceeds its original 100,000 target, only 33,100 local job seekers were placed into these roles, leading to a significant number of unfilled vacancies.

"Going forward, I think we need to further improve this matching of job vacancies to job seekers. And this is what the SGUnited Job and Skills Centres and other agencies will be doing," said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance.

The review includes looking at how the database systems available can be better utilised for the purpose of job matching.

"It has not been an easy journey for people who have lost their jobs. But I'm glad to see that spirit of resilience, that they keep trying," said Mr Heng.

While the process is not straightforward, if job seekers persist in their search, they will be able to find something that fits, he said.

"At the same time, there's also a whole range of training programs... (and)a very good suite of programs to help our people build new skills," said Mr Heng, encouraging workers to make full use of the schemes.

He said that while Covid-19 is significantly reshaping economies and labour markets around the globe, there are growth sectors in Singapore and job seekers should remain hopeful.

"There are new opportunities if we change our minds about what are good jobs, and be prepared to undergo training, be prepared to persevere, and continue to look for good opportunities," said Mr Heng.

Apart from job seekers being willing to learn new skills and take on new roles, Mr Heng said that employers need to be flexible in their expectations too.

Instead of looking for a candidate with a particular background, employers should be prepared to invest in training the new hires, he said.

He acknowledgedthat it is very difficultto find a perfect fit for job vacancies, so both job seekers and employers have to be able to adapt and adjust as they go along.

On Wednesday, Mr Heng toured the Samwoh Research and Development Centre, along with Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

"For the construction industry and built environment industry, it has often been seen as sort of old economy," said Mr Heng.

However, he said there are in fact many opportunities for innovation to deal with practical problems in the industry, he said, citing Samwoh's efforts.

Samwoh is looking at how it can make further use of future technology in its work, such as artificial intelligence and data analysis.

"I think that innovative ability is a key competitive edge for Samwoh and also for our industry, and this is something which we need to continue to emphasise," said Mr Heng.

He added that during this period, Samwoh has been developing its staff and also hiring new ones. "The staff are given good training, and they have a clear idea of what are the skills that they need for the company today and into the future."

As the government finalises the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan for 2021 to 2025, it will engage with industry players to see how to cater its plans to future needs so that firms here can be competitive, said Mr Heng.