Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on PMETs' Vulnerability to Retrenchment
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower with regard to the Redundancy and Re-Entry into Employment 2012 Report (a) why have PMETs, particularly degree holders, become more vulnerable to redundancy in 2012 compared to blue-collar workers (beyond general attributions to globalisation and technological innovations); (b) whether this trend is expected to continue in 2013; and (c) whether, in light of this, the Government will further reduce the number of employment passes issued each year.
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:
- The overall incidence of redundancy in Singapore has remained low at 5.8 per 1,000 workers in 2012. This is comparable to the past 2 years1 and below the longer-term trend. Amongst PMETs, it has increased from 5.5 per 1,000 workers in 2011 to 7.4 per 1000 workers in 2012. This is still low, and comparable to the historical trend.
- This increase was partly due to above-average incidence of redundancy for PMETs in electronics (at 21 per 1,000), financial services (14 per 1,000) and information & communications (13 per 1,000) - industries which typically hire more PMETs. These are also industries that are externally oriented and hence more affected by the current global economic slowdown.
- As our economic restructuring picks up pace, we could see redundancy increase for both PMETs and non-PMETs as an outcome of workers moving across jobs and industries. What is important is to keep structural unemployment low and help workers who are affected to find new employment.
- Even though the incidence of redundancy was higher among PMETs than non-PMETs in 2012, unemployment amongst resident PMETs remained low. The annual average unemployment rate for those with a degree stands at 2.7%, which is comparable to the overall unemployment rate of 2.8%. This is lower2 than the overall unemployment rates in comparable economies such as Hong Kong (3.3%) and South Korea (3.2%). There is likewise no significant difference between the long-term unemployment rate of those with degrees and those without3. At the same time, there are still many jobs available for PMETs. In 2012, more than 20,000 job vacancies4 were available for PMETs.
Employment Facilitation Initiatives
- Nonetheless, we will ensure there is adequate help for workers who are displaced to pick up new skills and find suitable new jobs. Those who require employment and training assistance can approach WDA’s CaliberLink or Career Centres at the Community Development Councils (CDCs).
Foreign Workforce Framework
- The number of EP holders has already fallen last year due to more stringent policies - the first time since 2003 that it experienced a decline. As announced at the Committee of Supply debate this year, MOM is further reviewing the eligibility requirements for EP holders. In consultation with tripartite stakeholders, we will also work towards a sustainable framework to ensure that firms give Singaporeans fair consideration in employment.
1 Overall number per 1,000 workers made redundant in 2010
and 2011 was 5.7 and 5.5 respectively.
2 Unemployment rates in other East Asian economies are: Japan (4.3%), Taiwan (4.2%). Unemployment rates in Western developed economies are much higher: European Union (27 countries) (10.5%) and US (8.1%).
3 Long-term unemployment rates for overall and across all educational attainments were 0.6%, with the exception of Post-Secondary (Non-Tertiary) which recorded 0.7%.
4 Annual average of four quarters. Source: Labour Market Survey, MOM.