You are on page 1of 1


the population issue

today wednesday 7 November 2012

the population issue

significant. What can be done is have security systems to ensure locals get the job first, because thats a concern Singaporeans have about foreigners taking away their opportunities or their jobs. Divya: Foreign students put in a lot more effort than we do, work harder and smarter than us. We felt threatened that they were always scoring higher marks. But that mentality in students ought to change. Coexistence should come more naturally than teachers telling you to include them in discussions. And the language barrier exists. These are things that make it difficult to integrate with them. It took me 1.5 years to truly understand them and make them a part of my class. Anmol: My class has a lot of foreigners. I can see them working so much harder than me. But I dont treat them as rivals. Im good friends with them and we help each other out. Right now, I dont feel that much competition because I know where I stand and if he does better than me, its because he just studied harder than me. Maybe in future it might be a problem: Im afraid of working so hard for a job I really want and this person whos not local is better than you or me. But Im open to the idea of migrants because I feel they help us a lot. Sim Ann: I think if we look worldwide, there will always be someone who works harder, whos prepared to do the same job for less pay. We talked about how to help Singaporeans in this kind
nonresidents make up ...

today wednesday 7 November 2012

On their aspirations ...

social service sector. They come home each day and they smile, even though they earn much less. Anmol: I want to do law as my fallback. I want to travel the world and try different jobs and get experience. But I still want something to go back to and earn money for my parents. I want to be practical too. Dinnie: I actually think that being practical will prevent us from valuing all kinds of jobs because Singaporeans will naturally tend towards the jobs that are higher-paying or typically regarded as more successful. Jeremy: I think for a very long time, our measures of success have been very material-based. Do you really need to be a lawyer to be responsible to your family? The money is good but the hours are bad. Measures of success shouldnt just be what we can achieve or how much we make, but maybe things like taking pride in your work or excellence in your work craftsmen, musicians, people like singer-songwriter Inch Chua. That should be celebrated, people who pursue passions against all odds. And it has practical consequences. If we want to increase the number of graduates in Singapore to 40 per cent, we are going to have to ensure that they get jobs that fit the qualifications that they have. Hamidah: For far too long weve been Singapore Inc. On the practical side, yes, we need to grow the economy but I think we also need to grow our hearts, our souls, or we wont reach that stage of self-actualisation. Jeremy: The point to be made is, its not just about creating jobs. Jobs are important, growth is important. People who said we dont need GDP growth really got it wrong in terms of what that really means. But the message theyre trying to get at is, we should not be too concerned with material indicators of what it means to lead a happy life. Hamidah: I guess I need to be a bit more practical because my parents are not working and both have chronic diseases so I need to help. I do not have that kind of leeway to stop school, go travelling for one year. And certain segments of society do not get to enjoy things like that even going to university or a polytechnic but they try to find alternative means to get what they want. I want to have my share of fun and I love community work. I did model United Nations conferences since I was 14 and I realised looking at these issues is what I like. Next year, I tell myself Ill probably go to Costa Rica for one whole month to help the population there. So, I do what I like but Im also mindful I need to fulfil certain obligations.
Continued from page 3

How is GDP growth important to our aspirations?

How Singapores economy is structured

Services 69% Manufacturing 20.9%

GDP growth is not an end in itself, but a means to cater to the more varied and rising aspirations of Singaporeans at all levels. A vibrant job market and new sectors will offer opportunities to explore good-value jobs as well as careers in line with their interests (e.g. new sectors in recent years include biomedical sciences and digital media animation) A thriving economy also makes possible the environment of world-class arts performances, major sporting events, international malls and other lifestyle and recreational pursuits.

they bring with them. I feel it should not be viewed as something potentially negative for the workforce, but rather it provides the wherewithal for Singaporeans to grow and learn from MNCs that know what theyre doing. For example, Rolls-Royce. Sim Ann: We look at (creating) a lot of (career) opportunities, but people also do have their preferences. And I think engineering, sciences, thats one area where weve had to supplement the local workforce with foreigners. Is this something which our young feel will have to be the case going forward? Do you foresee, for instance, many sectors being more and more reliant on foreigners? Divya: In my school, there are 20odd classes taking science, eight taking arts. This shows parents are making their children take the safer route. Some students in my class are doing science but they eventually want to do business. Abdillah: The shipping industry is a big money-maker. My dad was a captain of a vessel and he went on to do onshore work. My sister is in the shipping industry and she tells me there are a lot of jobs that are waiting for Singaporeans, but they cant get Singaporeans with those skills. And these are jobs paying five-figure sums. And theyre paying it to people in Batam. These are the kinds of jobs people need to be aware of. Students can only think to become a doctor or a lawyer; no one wants to be more adventurous. Sim Ann: Certainly for industries in which were very short of local recruits, theres been a stepping up of getting information out to students and the general public, and it includes the maritime industry. But preferen ces do continue to prevail, although the work of getting the word out will continue. Dinnie: I think we cannot deny the necessity for foreign workers or f o r eign talent in our economy because of the need PMETs for their expertise as speak: well as in jobs that pg 16 Singaporeans do not want to take on. Singaporeans arent against having foreigners specifically, but the social costs that come along would be a concern. For example, how well our infrastructure can develop to accommodate this increasing population. I think thats one area that ought to be addressed.


Construction 4.2%
*as of 2011. Source: MTI

of low-skilled and non-PMET workers

I would not say there needs to be a total form of protectionist policies ... we still need to attract investments but could there be certain industries that could be semiprotected, for those whore not so privileged or so welleducated?

KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY AND MANUFACTURING: THE ROLLS-ROYCE EXAMPLE Singapore is a key business hub for Rolls-Royce, which employs more than 1,600 people here. In 2009, Rolls-Royce established its Regional Corporate Headquarters and relocated its Global Marine Headquarters here. The Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus that opened in 2012 is the groups most modern manufacturing, research, testing and training facility. It is expected to generate over 500 jobs in the next three years. Getting people excited about careers in aerospace and engineering is a challenge, Rolls-Royce regional director Jonathan Asherson says. It has established partnerships with the Institute of Technical Education, the Workforce Development Agency and the Nanyang Technological University because we have to promote the sector, educate people about the possibilities of the career, the value add, the social value add.
today file photo

of PMETs
Source: NPTD estimates

of situation. Do you feel protecting jobs will work? Bearing in mind we have to make sure investments come in, and that investors come because they feel its attractive to hire Singaporeans. What are your thoughts on this? Hamidah: Looking around the table, to be honest, I feel we are very fortunate people. We have lots of opportunities and the networks. Unfortunately theres another group who may not be as fortunate who may not have the knowledge and know-how to attain certain things. In the 1980s, there were government-related companies that provided full-time employment. That provided

opportunities: How to ensure theyre available?

Sim Ann: We are committed to ensuring a wide range of opportunities are available for our youths. But the situations in other parts of the world are different. I think some of you have met youths from other countries trying to look for more opportunities in our part of the world, or perhaps who may be concerned about job prospects. People in other societies worry about the basics. How do you think we should continue to organise ourselves as a society? What changes need to be made, in order to provide such opportunities for youths? Divya: I think such opportunities are available but students are afraid of venturing into them. I have this friend who plays the guitar, harp and piano, shes so talented in music and torn between choosing music and the arts subjects. She feels afraid venturing into music. I think we should be brave enough to take such risks. Kai Min: What sort of society or economy can we build to have that tapestry of opportunities or youths? The byword of the past few years is that Singapore should be a knowledge and service-based economy, but I strongly

believe that we are missing that manufacturing element. Manufacturing as a sector creates the largest multiplier and with manufacturing then comes services, then comes soft skills. So I think the idea of Singapore going towards a knowledge-based economy has perhaps been taken a bit to the extreme, in the sense that we have been focusing too much on the soft skills. If you look at developed countries like the United States you can see theres been significant decline in manufacturing in recent years and the economy has taken a hit. Perhaps weve swung too far in one direction hard skills needed to propel the economy forward. And I feel the heavy industries still have a place in as small a country as Singapore. This is evident when we saw RollsRoyce set up a plant here. Sim Ann: Im happy to share with you,

Kai Min, that the Government completely agrees with you, that manufacturing, science and technology remain very important to our economy. When we talk about a knowledgebased economy, its not so much knowledge versus manufacturing its more jobs that bring higher value and knowledge, as opposed to jobs that are very routine or that are easily replaceable or can easily move to other countries. In fact, were working quite hard to retain manufacturing as an important pillar.

a sense that, OK I have a big family, I may earn S$1,700 but thats fine, I know this employer will be providing for me for the next 30, 40 or 50 years. However, I think in the past 10years, things have greatly changed. Employers are giving a lot more contractual agreements. So the sense of security is not really there. I know people will say, Hamidah, you just have to blame globalisation, but we have to find a calibrated way around it. I would not say there needs to be a total form of protectionist policies Im against that because we still need to attract investments but could there be certain industries that could be semi-protected, for those
Continued on page 6


Kai Min: (Their role) can probably be defined as MNCs and the expertise

Manufacturing as a sector creates the largest multiplier and with manufacturing then comes services, then comes soft skills. So I think the idea of Singapore going towards a knowledge-based economy has perhaps been taken a bit to the extreme, in the sense that we have been focusing too much on the soft skills.


Dinnie: Competition in schools exists regardless of whether its a fo reign student or its a local student. But I guess when we enter the workforce, this competition will be more

today file photo