15 July 2010

Minister Gan on the Revised Economic Growth Forecast

15 July 2010

Yesterday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced that it expects the Singapore economy to expand by 13% to 15% this year. This is likely to bring about a tightening of the labour market. The preliminary estimates of key labour market indicators for the second quarter of 2010 will be released at the end of this month which will provide a clearer indication of the labour market situation. 

With a strong economic growth and a tight labour market, it is all the more urgent for employers to step up efforts to improve productivity. We have set a target of 2% to 3% productivity growth per year over the next ten years and this will be the key focus of our manpower strategy.

Singapore's strong economic growth will bring about more jobs and a greater demand for labour. This will create many opportunities for Singaporeans and we will need to help them acquire new skills that may be needed for these jobs.  However, given our already low unemployment rate, and that productivity results will take time to realise, we would need to tap on more foreign workers to support economic growth in the short term, while maintaining the longer term goal of reducing our reliance on foreign workers through investments in productivity.

The tightening labour market will also impose greater pressure for wages to increase. We must continue to improve the skills of the workforce and raise productivity to provide sustainable wage increases without losing our competitiveness. We must continue to build on the continuous training culture we had seeded during the downturn.

For low wage workers, we have enhanced the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and introduced the Workfare Training Support Scheme (WTS) to equip them with new skills through training and upgrading so that they can move out of low-paying jobs and take advantage of the new opportunities brought about by the strong economic growth.

Gan Kim Yong
Minister for Manpower

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