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S'pore labour market to remain tight for some time: Lim Swee Say

The tight labour market in Singapore will remain for some time, said labour chief Lim Swee Say on Sunday in his May Day message to Singaporeans.

SINGAPORE: The tight labour market in Singapore will remain for some time, said labour chief Lim Swee Say on Sunday.

In his May Day message to Singaporeans ahead of Labour Day on Thursday, Mr Lim
urged employers to be better bosses, and told employees not to take job supply for granted.

Two-thirds of Singapore's workforce are local, and the government hopes to keep it that way.

To do so, foreign manpower must eventually grow at the same pace as local manpower, said Mr Lim.

This means the growth of foreign manpower would need to slow down.

Mr Lim said eventually the overall growth of Singapore's workforce could slow to 1 to 2 per cent in future, down from 3 to 4 per cent.

He said a tight labour market can speed up economic restructuring - through productivity gains and innovations - but employers and employees should do their part too.

“My message to the employers is that the labour market tightness will remain for some time to come, so therefore, please find ways to be a better employer, make better use of every worker, and treat every worker better.

“My message to the workers is do not take the tight labour market for granted. Job supply should never be taken for granted. In fact, the whole world is now moving towards using robotisation, using new technology to reduce their dependency on labour.

“So therefore it's important that we value every job that we have, be proud of what we do, and that we do what we do, our job, passionately. So in other words, be a better worker,” said Mr Lim.

He added that job creation could slow if economic restructuring does not take off.

Mr Lim said there is also more that members of the public can do to treat service staff as equals.

He said while customers want better service, they should also be good customers, as this can create a more positive experience.

He added the labour movement is thinking of ways to recognise the efforts of customers and service providers that bring positive energy to the workplace.

From midnight on May Day, some 1,000 labour movement activists will be going around the island to distribute 100,000 of “energy bands” to workers.

The colourful bands represent a show of appreciation, and is the labour movement's way of thanking workers for their contribution to Singapore. 

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