Amid industry transformation push, job security must be ensured: WP MPs

April 6, 20169:45 am380 views

At the Budget debate on Tuesday (Apr 5), opposition Members of Parliament spoke about the need to ensure job security and build greater resilience in the young.

Commenting on the S$4.5 billion Industry Transformation Programme announced during the Budget speech, Aljunied MP Pritam Singh said it would be “worthwhile” to consider how companies and sectors that do the most to raise productivity, improve skills and boost innovation can benefit more from tax-payer dollars.

Even as businesses are encouraged to transform, he said they should keep Singaporeans at “the centre of their efforts”.

“The Industry Transformation Programme should identify and thereafter even prejudice firms that are what the Ministry of Manpower calls ‘double-weak firms’ – weak in having a Singaporean core and weak in their commitment to fair hiring practices in the development of Singaporeans. Likewise, these companies should be restricted from benefitting from corporate income tax rebates or tapping on the grants that go up on the Business Grants Portal that is to be established in the fourth quarter of this year,” said Mr Singh.


Fellow MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap noted plans to increase automation through grants, but was concerned over potential job losses.

“There is evidence that automation will result in job loss for workers who are low-skilled and for some workers who have moderate skills. We certainly do not want a situation where automation and technological developments result in certain segments of society feeling they are left behind and sink amidst the tide of modernity and progress – resulting in negative feelings (of) being ‘discarded’ after they are no longer useful. If this happens it will weaken our efforts to build an inclusive and caring society,” said Mr Faisal.


Addressing Government initiatives to develop resilience in the young, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan said one-off participation in Outward Bound programmes may not be enough.

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had announced a S$250 million Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus on Coney Island as part of the new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan.

“Resilience training involves much more than a round-island Singapore canoe expedition or a one-off OBS programme. We need to relook the way we educate our children. We should not be happy with an education system that encourages our children to succeed by being exam-smart alone. The system should encourage more of our young people to explore different adventures,” said Mr Tan.

“For example, taking time off studies or work to excel in sports or a hobby like some of our national athletes or even taking some time off to broaden your horizons like what many young people in Europe do.”
He added that Singapore youths should not fear losing out by graduating later or starting work later. “We also have to find a way to teach our children not to be afraid of failures, but to learn to cope with failure. There must be latitude in the education system to allow this. If our children are afraid to fail, they are less likely to be adventurous, they will always go for safe options; they are also less likely to appreciate innovation and entrepreneurship,” Mr Tan said.

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