Manpower-intensive sectors to get ‘special attention’ to raise productivity: Labour Chief

December 24, 201410:04 am506 views
Manpower-intensive sectors to get ‘special attention’ to raise productivity: Labour Chief
Manpower-intensive sectors to get 'special attention' to raise productivity: Labour Chief

SINGAPORE: Manpower-intensive sectors will get “special attention” from the Labour Movement next year in the push to raise productivity said Labour Chief Lim Swee Say in an interview with Channel NewsAsia. Mr Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said these are the sectors which are typically less productive as they depend on cheap manpower. He also highlighted this as one of the key areas unionists will focus on next year.

Q: The Labour Movement has always been at the forefront of championing for higher productivity in Singapore. In relation to this, what are its priorities for 2015? 

Mr Lim: From the Labour Movement’s perspective, we have to continue keeping up with the pace of productivity gain of innovation development. At the same time, in areas and sectors where we have achieved some early success, it is to find ways to spread those outreach, spread the success as quickly as possible.

So in other words, while we need to keep pushing for faster pace of innovation and productivity gain, we need to broaden our outreach at the same time. So in that regard, we believe that the best way to achieve this is to tackle this challenge of innovation and productivity at the sectoral level.

Q: Are there any sectors that you are particularly concerned with, that you feel need more support? 

Mr Lim: We have sectors; we have companies which have been upgrading their operations – that have been improving their productivity. Our challenge is that this is not widespread enough. As a result, productivity gain in some sectors and enterprises are being averaged down, by those sectors that have not been moving fast enough, or at the same pace.

Therefore, our challenge today would be in terms of those sectors that are already making good progress and at the same time for sectors which are still moving slower than the other sectors. We should find ways to get them to achieve some early breakthrough. So I think, for example in the areas of construction, which is one area that is slowing us down, we have to really focus on these sectors.

Q: How can the Government support be further calibrated to achieve the results that Singapore wants? 

Mr Lim: I would say that if you look at the policy angle, the framework is largely in place. Of course along the way, depending on the unique situation of each individual sector, there could be new policies, incentives, programmes, and refinement to cater to those sectors. But on the whole, there are no policies or incentives schemes that are not the bottleneck today. Yes, there will be scope for refinement and improvement. But broadly-speaking, they are largely in place. What we have to do today is a challenge of alignment and mobilisation.

In terms of alignment, it means getting the unions, workers, businesses and Government agencies to work together, sector by sector.  As for the mobilisation challenge, we are already seeing some early adopters in every sector, and as such, what we need to do is to mobilise more industry players.


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