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May Day Message by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower

Better Workers, Better Jobs

28 April 2014

  1. Our economy grew by 4.1% last year, and is expected to grow between 2 and 4% this year. Our labour market remains tight with close to full employment, and the real median income for Singaporeans grew by 4.6% in 2013.
  2. In the midst of this encouraging economic and labour market environment, this year’s May Day theme of “Better Workers, Betters Jobs” is apt. As Singapore enters a new phase of development, we must continue with our restructuring efforts. Only then can we achieve the vision of a “better workers, better jobs.” It is important that tripartite members continue to work closely together as we transform our economy to create higher-value industries and quality jobs for Singaporeans.
  3. The Government is committed to help workers at all levels adapt to the new economic environment.
  4. One key area is continuous learning and skills upgrading. We are embarking on a major review of the Continuing Education and Training system to support workers in upgrading their skills and lifelong learning, so that they can seize the new job opportunities that restructuring will bring. The Workfare Training Support Scheme will continue to support low-wage workers and older workers to enhance their employability. For the growing pool of our Professionals, Managers, and Executives, we will continue to enhance funding support to help deepen their skills, competencies and career prospects.
  5. Low wage workers, in particular, will need greater help in this new environment. Much has been done to help this group of workers. Let me also take this opportunity to laud NTUC’s efforts in engaging both service buyers and service providers on best sourcing and in spearheading the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), which puts in place clear wage-skill and career progression pathways for workers. Service buyers who best source cleaning, landscape and security contracts to service providers who adopt the PWM can now receive funding support from the new Progressive Wage Incentive (PWI).
  6. Government has agreed to incorporate the PWM for the cleaning sector as a licensing requirement for cleaning companies. We will do so for the security sector when the PWM for the sector is ready. A tripartite body will also be set up to assess the need for mandating a PWM in the landscaping sector.
  7. The Government is also fully committed to helping companies transform their existing business models, so that they can create better job opportunities for our workers. We will continue to strongly encourage businesses to innovate and strive for productivity improvements and in turn, raise the wages of our workers.
  8. This process is not easy for employers and I am heartened that our unions have been actively engaging management partners to tap on different funding programmes such as the Inclusive Growth Programme and Productivity and Innovation Credit to review business processes, boost productivity and speed up innovation.
  9. Our strong tripartite partnership has served us well in the past and is a competitive advantage for Singapore as our economy restructures and we aim for more sustainable and inclusive growth. Singapore’s progress over the years is testament to our strong fundamentals, including our strong spirit of tripartism. As we look forward to meeting the challenges of the future, it is important that Government, employers and unions continue to work closely together towards our common objective of better workers and better jobs, so as to create a better life for Singaporeans.
  10. I wish everyone a very Happy May Day.