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DPM Lawrence Wong (c) [Photo from DPM Wong's Facebook page]

Singapore will protect workers, not jobs – DPM Wong

Wong says protecting jobs will hold back the “process of innovation.”

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said Singapore will take a “protect workers, not jobs” approach to ensure that employees can bounce back from employment setbacks.

In his speech at the Citizens’ Panel, Wong discussed ways in which Singapore can help workers “bounce back not just into another job, but hopefully one that makes good use of their skills and has even better career prospects for them.”

“Our approach in Singapore is not to protect the job. When I explain this in context, you can understand, but you can be sure that the immediate instinct is to save the job, the job is becoming obsolete, my livelihood is being threatened, let’s save the job,” Wong said.

“But, our approach is not to protect the job because this will only hold back the process of innovation and will hinder the creation of new and better jobs. To say that is easy, the churn that can happen can be very unsettling and disruptive for the individual whose very livelihood is at stake. When your job is being impacted, you will feel very disrupted and very concerned. We know that the churn that takes place in the economy, will require individuals to adjust to change, to keep on learning new skills,” Wong added.

Wong assured the public that the government is redoubling its efforts to help every Singaporean “reskill, upskill and transit more easily to take up new job opportunities.”

There are three things to be done to achieve such a goal, said Wong. The first is to engage employers.  

“We have to first start by engaging employers because employers are the ones who create the jobs. Employers need to know how they want to grow and transform their business, how to redesign jobs to achieve these goals, and what kind of skill sets they need for their jobs of the future,” Wong said. 

“Second, we need training providers to work closely with employers and the industry. Training providers need to understand what employers need and design effective courses that can close the skills gap. The training providers must also maintain high and rigorous standards of training.”

“Finally, we also need to engage the workers themselves, through the unions and also by appealing and engaging them directly.”
 

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