Why Singapore lags behind in productivity

Why Singapore lags behind in productivity

The report ("New handler bagged Jetstar deal, but lost its workers"; Oct 31) shows there is high demand for workers in labour-intensive industries, and is a wake-up call for firms to improve staff welfare to retain their employees.

This trend is more apparent in the construction industry, where at least 10 per cent of work permit holders in each firm must be higher-skilled, with effect from 2017 ("Push to raise skills, productivity in construction sector"; Oct 31).

The Manpower Ministry can incentivise construction firms to upgrade their foreign workers' skills, by requiring firms to send them for continual skills training, and awarding points to these companies. The points quantum would depend on the course content and duration, and could be used to renew work permits and qualify the workers as higher-skilled.

Singapore's productivity has lagged behind that of Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Our growing affluence and tight labour market make workers more likely to job-hop and less inclined to work hard.

Part-time and contract workers also affect overall productivity as these staff see little or no need to raise their productivity.

Productivity is also affected when workers resign, as firms would need time to train their replacements.

Unless bosses see the urgent need to invest in labour-saving technology and automation, low productivity and hiring difficulties will remain.


This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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