SINGAPORE: The National Solidarity Party's (NSP) secretary-general Spencer Ng has questioned how many of the 100,000 jobs the Government is creating as part of COVID-19 recovery measures are "quality" jobs.
Speaking to CNA after his party's walkabout in Sembawang GRC on Sunday morning (Jul 5), Mr Ng said that it is unclear if the 100,000 new jobs will result in a net gain or a net loss of positions in the job market.
"They did not specify what kind of jobs and how many jobs were lost when you compare with how many jobs have been created," he said.
Mr Ng leads the NSP's Sembawang team which comprises Mr Ivan Yeo Tiong Boon, Mr Sebastian Teo, Mr Yadzeth Hairis and Mr Sathin Ravindran.
Mr Ng noted that the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is also facing pressure from the opposition.
"When quality opposition keeps coming up with proposals on these issues Singaporeans are very concerned with, they work harder and they get ideas from us - from the opposition parties," he said.
The NSP team is up against Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Mr Lim Wee Kiak, Mr Vikram Nair, Ms Poh Li San and Ms Mariam Jaafar from the PAP.
SWISS STANDARD COST OF LIVING
On the topic of getting people in the workforce to acquire new skills, Mr Ng acknowledged that no system is perfect.
However, he voiced concern for middle-aged Singaporeans who are reskilling in order to move on to new jobs. "Is the next job going to let them earn enough to maintain their current lifestyle? That is very important," Mr Ng said.
This is especially when they have to contend with big-ticket financial items such as housing loans.
"By the time we are middle-aged, we have commitments like children and insurance. When we get our second job, will that be enough to maintain?
"Or we may have to downgrade to a small home, downgrade our quality of life," said Mr Ng.
Mr Ng also said the PAP promised over the past 30 years that "we are supposed to have a Swiss standard of living" yet the people "are paying a Swiss standard cost of living".
NSP, he added, is focused on giving Singaporeans a "quality life".
LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE TO DIGITALISE EDUCATION
Moving on to the topic of education, Mr Ng said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Singapore does not have the infrastructure ready to accelerate the digitalisation of our education system.
Referring to the announcement made by Mr Ong to bring forward the plan for all secondary school students to have personal laptops or tablets for learning by 2021, Mr Ng asked: "Is the infrastructure ready? Are the teachers ready? Or are you forcing this down the throat of the teachers?"
Mr Ng said the system for home-based learning during the circuit breaker period was "not there, and (teachers) had to fine-tune here and there".
He added that credit has to be given to teachers "who have been left to their own devices to come up with creative methods to engage with students" during this period.
RECOGNISE SKILLS INSTEAD OF PAPER QUALIFICATIONS
Mr Ng also mentioned that "it is a pretty sad fact that Singaporeans choose to ignore, refuse to take action, or acknowledge that we are built on the backs of cheap labour".
"This is macroeconomics at play and this is something that the PAP has formulated," adding that the ruling party "got us addicted to cheap labour".
Mr Ng then compared the situation in Singapore to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan where skilled labour he said, are "done by skilled local workers".
He said there is a need to shift the focus away from cheap labour and recognise skills instead of just paper qualifications.
Mr Ng added: "The PAP government had kicked the can down the road to this stage whereby they need to get cheap labour in to perform all these jobs.
"If we have been focusing on developing people with skills and couple it with technology, we can achieve higher productivity and at the same time give these jobs to locals with decent pay and a level of respect."