Swee Say: Unemployment could rise in future due to shortage of skills, not jobs

Mr Clive Chia Chun receiving the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science from Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at Republic Polytechnic. He was accompanied by his grandmother Goh Hiong Guat, 66, and mother Lilin Ng, 47. With them is Mr David Wong
Mr Clive Chia Chun receiving the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science from Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at Republic Polytechnic. He was accompanied by his grandmother Goh Hiong Guat, 66, and mother Lilin Ng, 47. With them is Mr David Wong, chairman of the board of governors of Republic Polytechnic. Mr Chia was part of the pioneer cohort of the Polytechnic Foundation Programme and finished the programme with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Unemployment could rise in the future, not because of the shortage of jobs, but the shortage of skills, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday at a graduation ceremony for Republic Polytechnic (RP) students.

As intelligent technology continues to reshape industries here and globally, the Singapore Government will continue to invest in training and retraining so that skills match changing jobs.

But people have to play their part as well, said Mr Lim as he urged graduates to look at technology as a job creator, not competitor, in a future where jobs will come from industries such as data analytics, cyber security and robotics engineering.

Following a May Day address in which he warned that unemployment could rise further, Mr Lim said that in the process of jobs-oftoday disappearing and jobs-oftomorrow being created, there would be a major redistribution of jobs across the globe, with some countries experiencing net job gains and others, net losses.

"For Singapore, our choice is clear," said Mr Lim. "We want to be among the winners, not losers."

Institutions like RP help by not simply transferring knowledge, but also exposing students to real-work environments, he said.

EMBRACING THE FUTURE

For Singapore, our choice is clear. We want to be among the winners, not losers.

MANPOWER MINISTER LIM SWEE SAY, on the redistribution of jobs across the globe, with some countries experiencing net job gains and others, net losses.

Singapore's fifth polytechnic will see 4,752 students graduating from its Pre-Employment Training (PET) for post-secondary students, and Continuing Education and Training (CET) for adult learners.

The programmes align with the Government's commitment to help Singaporeans learn new skills and develop new careers.

Doing well in the workforce now is no longer dependent only on competence and capability, but on passion and adaptability as well, said Mr Lim.

Yesterday's ceremony included the pioneer cohorts of two programmes - the Diploma in Human Resource Management with Psychology (DHRMP) and the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) - both of which produced top performers.

The school's valedictorian, Ms Kristina Manik, 19, is a graduate of the DHRMP course, while Mr Clive Chia Chun, 21, the recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science, finished the PFP with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Teaching students to bridge their ideas in theory and practice helps them become adaptable, said Ms Beatrice Tan, programme chair of the DHRMP course.

"Employment is based on someone's ability to solve problems. Technology can become outdated, but the ability to solve problems will always be required."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Swee Say: Unemployment could rise in future due to shortage of skills, not jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe