Labour Issues in Singapore

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.

Labor Shortage

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.

Gender Inequality

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.

You might be interested in starting a business in one of the industries just mentioned. If such is the case, you ought to know that for some of those industries, doing so requires a license. Fortunately for you, we at Paul Hype Page & Co are able and willing to help you receive one. We will guide you through every step of the process that will enable you to receive the relevant business license.

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.

Want to Start business in Singapore
Want to Start business in Singapore

These forms of gender inequality that exist in the Singaporean workforce are also related to the prior point about the country’s labor shortage. This is because Singaporean women might choose to work abroad in countries where they are statistically more likely to be better paid and have more opportunities for career advancement. Foreign women might also become less likely to choose to work in Singapore after they learn about such inequalities. Thus, the government and companies of Singapore ought to work to reduce the level of gender inequality so as to improve the overall quality of, as well as increase the number of people in, the country’s workforce.


Lack of Social Support for Foreigners

Many foreigners who work in Singapore also do not experience an acceptable level of social support. Due to the fact that the country’s government has historically failed to place proper emphasis on this area, social support for foreigners who work in Singapore is generally low. Although there may be instances in which they receive unjust treatment from employers or experience unsafe conditions while working, many embassies, high commissions, and government agencies often do not have the ability to address these issues. Furthermore, many foreigners are not properly informed about their rights as an employee in Singapore. Therefore, they are unaware of the functions of embassies, high commissions, and government agencies during the instances in which these bodies are indeed able to be of assistance.

Although the Singaporean government has been taking steps to adjust its policies to avoid such problems in the future, the fact that these issues have occurred before may dissuade some foreigners from coming to Singapore to work. This again contributes to the labor shortage because the lower the number of foreigners who come to Singapore to work, the smaller the size of the workforce of the country. Thus, a significant number of job vacancies which may otherwise have been filled by foreigners would remain unfilled.

Nevertheless, if you are a foreigner who would like to work in Singapore, we at Paul Hype Page & Co can be of assistance. We will set you up with our team of specialists. They will work with you so that you can receive the necessary work permits and all other required documents in due time.



Despite all the issues that have been mentioned, Singapore is nevertheless a good place to work. It boasts a thriving economy, active business scene, and vibrant corporate culture. For these reasons, people from all over the world have chosen to live and work in Singapore.

However, it is also clear that Singapore is currently experiencing certain issues related to labor which it needs to successfully handle in order to further strengthen the country’s workforce and economy. Of course, most pressing of these problems is the ongoing shortage of labor. The problems of gender inequality and lack of social support for foreigners also need to be addressed. They also indirectly contribute to the labor shortage.

In spite of these issues, there are ways in which they can be tackled. If all the authorities involved can successfully work together to address and overcome these problems that threaten to weaken Singapore’s otherwise thriving workforce, the country will receive tremendous benefits.