Will there be a recession?

Will there be a recession?

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang said our baseline projection is not an outright recession. But we can't rule out the possibility that the economy will experience some quarters of negative growth.

Overall, the economy will still grow in the lower range of between one and two per cent.

Mr Lim said the economic situation remains fluid, and outlined a slew of measures for companies affected by the economic slowdown.

They include loan schemes for SMEs and a one-year deferment of foreign worker levy increases for the marine sector.

Economist Song Seng Wun said it is possible for Singapore to slip into a recession if the growth momentum in developed economies like US, China and Europe continue to fall.

If this happens, there is nothing much the Republic can do.

What the Government can do is help mitigate the impact of weaker employment growth with schemes, said Mr Song.

In this uncertain economic climate, what help do jobseekers have?

For now, jobseekers can turn to the National Jobs Bank to look for jobs.

About 180,000 registered users have access to the online portal, and 25,700 employers advertise jobs on a daily basis, said Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say.

At any time, there are about 60,000 active jobs. Every day, there are about 7,000 job applications.

There are plans to transform the National Jobs Bank into a "one-stop online marketplace", said Mr Lim.

The marketplace will help connect employers, including those not advertising on the National Jobs Bank now, to jobseekers of all ages.

With the number of redundancies and retrenchment cases reaching record levels in the first half of the year, PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) are the most affected. What help do they have?

The number of Professional Conversion Programmes, which train mid-career professionals to switch industries, will double to more than 50 by the end of the year, said Mr Lim.

Also, the Career Support Programme (CSP), a limited wage support programme that encourages employers to offer suitable job opportunities to mature PMETs, was conceived to offer extra support to PMETs aged 40 and above who have been unemployed for at least six months.

The CSP is now expanded to include PMETs aged 40 and above who have been unemployed for less than six months, and PMETs who are below 40.

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Can we do with fewer foreign workers to strengthen the Singaporean core?

Our policy on foreign manpower must be well-balanced, said Mr Lim.

On one hand, if Singapore tries to make up for the drop in labour force growth by taking in many more foreign workers, the pace of restructuring will slow down eventually, and we will become overly reliant on them.

Wages will stagnate without productivity gain, said Mr Lim.

On the other hand, Singapore will see zero growth in total labour force if foreign manpower is reduced to zero.

This means zero growth in productivity, which leads to zero GDP (gross domestic product) growth, and the economy will stagnate, said Mr Lim.

This article was first published on October 11, 2016.
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