SINGAPORE - The Republic must press on to become an efficient economy that creates good jobs and sustains wage growth, said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in his final May Day message.
While a dwindling labour pool demands that Singapore grows with higher productivity, Mr Tan - who will assume the role of Minister of Social and Family Development on May 4 and relinquish his Manpower portfolio - said this is a condition "we cannot run away from as a mature economy and society" but fate "need not be pre-determined".
One strategy is for workers to stay relevant. To do so, he called on unions to encourage workers to take charge of their learning, and for companies to develop their employees.
Meanwhile, the Government will be "the key enabler" by providing infrastructure and resources such as the recently announced SkillsFuture initiative aimed at upgrading workers, Mr Tan said.
It is also exploring other ways to help older workers build up their retirement nests, besides the additional Special Employment Credit and Central Provident Fund changes. These ways include higher salary ceilings and increased contribution rates for older workers, said Mr Tan.
The call for workers to upgrade their skills was also made by Dr Robert Yap, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation.
In his May Day message, Dr Yap said that new technologies will put "many old jobs at risk over the next decade". But apart from "just investing in technology and expecting productivity to improve", an acceptance towards new ways of doing things is required so as to reap gains. "The tripartite partners will have to work together to help to identify skills," Dr Yap added.
Mr Tan said: "Singapore's economic and social progress over the years did not happen by chance, but through the concerted efforts of workers, employers and the Government."
He added that the tripartite model "has served us well, and will stand us in good stead to tackle future challenges".