ECONOMY, HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Manpower curbs hurting older and educated workers, says JLL

1 in 3 unemployed workers are graduates.

When Singapore first curbed foreign manpower hiring in 2011, lower-wage workers rejoiced. The curbs resulted in a much tighter labour market, which in turn managed to push up the salaries of lower-wage earners.

Although the manpower curbs have been beneficial for lower workers, JLL argues that the tight labour policies have dragged overall economic growth in the past five years and hurt older, more educated employees.

While unemployment for Singapore residents with lower education levels fell from 3.4% in 2010 to 2.6% in 2015, the unemployment of university graduates rose to 3% last year from 2.6% in 2011.

And though the total number of unemployed residents has been stable from 2010-2015, the number of unemployed graduates surged by 33% in this period. They now make up the biggest group amongst the unemployed, JLL said.

The disadvantages are also apparent for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). Although PMETs make up 50% of the workforce, they make up 77% of redundancies in the third quarter of 2015, up from 64% in 3Q13.

"JLL believes that there is a skill mismatch that needs to be addressed by policy makers. There seems to be a shortage of young workers for the services sector. Only 14 per cent of Singapore workers aged 25 to 34 years old (or about 73,200 workers) have a secondary school or lower education, down from 35 per cent in 2004. Young and educated Singapore workers, which make up 86 per cent of their age group, shy away from services jobs,” JLL said.

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