Every country’s workforce attempts to showcase the very best the country has to offer by performing to the best of its ability. The workforce of Singapore is no different. Over the years, Singapore’s workforce has done much to elevate the country to its current status of an economic powerhouse and corporate hub within the Asia-Pacific region. Certainly, the workforce of Singapore deserves much praise for all they have done.
However, not everything related to labor in Singapore is free of problems. Just as is the case in any other country, there are certain issues related to labor and employment in the country which have proven to be somewhat difficult to handle. Singapore’s companies and government have been doing all that has been possible to keep these problems in check, though the outcome of their attempts at solving the problems remains to be seen.
Many companies across Singapore have encountered a shortage of labor. This is the case for three reasons. The first reason is the rapidly aging population. As the average age of the Singaporean population increases, there will be fewer youths who will be seeking to enter the job market for the first time. The number of people who are of working age in Singapore is expected to reach its maximum in 2020, then be in a constant state of free fall after that. Thus, the aging of the population is expected to intensify the country’s shortage of labor.
Another reason why Singapore’s labor shortage is expected to continue is the fact that the laws regulating the entry of workers from abroad have been tightened. The earliest of these new, stricter measures were imposed in 2010; several more have since been added. Among the measures that made it more difficult for foreigners to work in Singapore included stricter requirements for one to receive an S Pass or Work Permit, as well as the introduction of a law that required all businesses in Singapore to prioritize locals when hiring workers. These stricter regulations made foreigners less inclined to move to Singapore to work. Thus, they also contribute to the labor shortage.
A third reason for the current labor shortage is that for many job seekers, there is a mismatch between skills possessed by most job seekers and skills in demand. It is unfortunate but true that the skills most sought by the job market are not always the most common. Such appears to be the case in Singapore at the moment. Although there have been measures introduced such as upskilling programs and increased emphasis by universities on courses that teach in-demand skills, the fact remains that this problem is yet to be completely solved. It therefore also exacerbates Singapore’s labor shortage.
Another labor-related problem that exists in Singapore today is that of gender inequality. Just as is the case in the vast majority of countries around the world, the average woman working in Singapore earns less money than the average man who works there. According to the latest statistics, the average woman who works in Singapore full-time earns just 87.5% of what her male counterpart earns for the same job and working hours. The income inequality between women and men in Singapore has increased; the previous set of statistics had women’s earnings in Singapore at 90.8% of men’s earnings. The largest wage gaps in the country exist in the following industries: manufacturing, accommodation, health, social services, information and communications, and food services.
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Women who work in Singapore must also deal with the fact that they are likely to have fewer opportunities for career advancement. The latest statistics showed that just 15.2% of board members in Singapore’s leading companies are women. To put this figure into perspective, a woman who works in the United Kingdom is almost twice as likely to obtain such a position, while a woman who works in France is nearly three times as likely to do so when compared to her Singaporean counterpart.