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

  1. The labour market is, and will remain, tight as our local labour force growth slows down towards the end of this decade. At the same time, we will continue to keep the foreign workforce growth sustainable and allow it to grow at the current pace. These trends point towards a future which demands that we grow our economy with fewer workers and higher productivity. This is a condition which we cannot run away from as a mature economy and society. But our fate need not be pre-determined by this condition if we work together for our collective future.
  2. Singapore’s economy expanded by 2.9 per cent last year and is expected to continue to grow at a modest pace between 2 and 4 per cent in 2015, amidst a tighter labour market and uncertain global economic environment. This is encouraging. We must press on with our efforts to become a manpower-lean economy that is driven by productivity, innovation and skills, and one that can create good jobs and sustain wage growth for our workers.
  3. Together with the tripartite partners, the Government remains firmly committed to creating better jobs, higher incomes and a more secure retirement for all Singaporeans. Through the SkillsFuture initiative, we will help workers upgrade and upskill to stay relevant and capitalise on career opportunities in the new-age economy. The Government will be the key enabler, providing the necessary infrastructure and resources, but we also need unions and employers to play their part. Unions should encourage their members to take ownership of their own learning and careers, and persuade their management partners to embark on the SkillsFuture initiatives. Companies have to shift their mindset to one that proactively develops every one of their workers, providing career pathways and valuing their contributions as they advance.
  4. We are also making concerted efforts to give every Singaporean greater assurance in employment and retirement. The employment rates of older Singaporeans aged from 55 to 64, and 65 to 69 have risen in 2014. We are looking at ways to help older workers stay actively employed and to build up their retirement nests. The Government is giving employers incentives such as the additional Special Employment Credit (SEC) to retain or hire older workers aged 65 and above. In addition, the recently announced CPF changes, including a higher CPF salary ceiling and increased contribution rates for older workers, are steps that we have systematically taken to boost Singaporeans’ retirement savings and income.
  5. Singapore’s economic and social progress over the years did not happen by chance, but through the concerted efforts of workers, employers and the Government. Our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had championed a constructive model of tripartism – one which took care of workers’ interest, built a competitive economy and gave all Singaporeans hope for a better future. This model has served us well, and will stand us in good stead to tackle future challenges. Let us continue to uphold the spirit of tripartism and work together as one to build a brighter future for all Singaporeans.
  6. Happy May Day to one and all.