Randstad Country Manager – Singapore, Jaya Dass, commented on the MOM Singapore Workforce 2015 Report and targets key issues that impact Singaporean workforce efficiency.
On the increase in the female labour force
“With the labour force participation rate continuing to rise, it is encouraging to see female participation contributing to this increase. Not only does this spell progress for gender equality in the workplace, but also economically as an increase in female labour force participation has been notably attributed to stronger economic growth.”
The increase in female participation represents a growing awareness among public and private sectors on the importance of gender equality and its role in Singapore’s economic competitiveness. At a recent conference on gender parity, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu called for more efforts to ensure a pro-family work environment and greater female representation in leadership positions.
Government schemes, such as increasing paternity leave to two weeks and IRAS tax incentives such as the Working Mother’s Child Relief, help women to balance their family roles with their career, without having to choose one over the other.
Nonetheless, the corporate sector needs to play a complementary role in boosting female participation, especially in directorships and managerial positions. Besides implementing more progressive family-friendly policies and offering flexible working arrangements, employers should introduce professional development programs to help women get ahead in the workplace.
“By ensuring they have a gender diverse workplace, companies will benefit in the long-term through decreased turnover, increased engagement and having access to a wider talent pool,” Dass said.
On the continued rise of older workers
“The employment of older residents has risen from one in four (24 per cent) in 2006 to one in three (34 per cent) in 2015, which is a testament to the public and private sectors working to tackle workplace ageism and employability as Singapore’s workforce rapidly ages.
Programmes such as SkillsFuture, which allows older workers to upgrade their skills and find more opportunities in their chosen careers, is one example.
At a recent meeting with APEC leaders, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the importance of lifelong employability, not just to relieve the potential strain on Singapore’s economy, but also contribute to the country’s growth.
“However, the unemployment rate has risen for older residents aged 50 and over, signaling that more work needs to be done to encourage firms to retain or rehire older workers.”
Through grants from WorkPro, a joint initiative by the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, companies can adapt jobs and workplaces to suit a mature workforce.
“Companies should also utilise government incentives when rehiring mature workers, such as the Special Employment Credit, that provides incentives for companies to retain or hire workers aged 65 and above.
“Meanwhile, employees can consider alternative opportunities such as contract work to get their foot back into the workforce, that has the added benefit of providing them with more flexible working conditions,” Dass added.