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Assessment of Singapore’s workforce management presents a variety of issues that are of concern to the Singapore authorities. Among the issues are the economic growth rate, nationalisation policies, gender and age disparity in the workforce, labour market regulations, microeconomic variables, and the institutions that affects labour and its growth objectives. As a result, some of the major challenges for the Singapore authorities in workforce management are the control of foreign workers and incorporation of the ageing population in the workforce (Ho, Wong, and Wong 2004, p. 6). While this nation attempts to make policies that can efficiently help in facing out these challenges, the population of Singapore that is multiracial and majorly dominated by the Chinese, Malays, Indian and Eurasian, presents an additional test in tackling these issue (Singapore Year book of Manpower Statistics, 2010 2010).
According to Labour and social trends in ASEAN 2010 (2010), macroeconomic context is where the labour market functions determine the labour outcomes. Nevertheless, the regulatory and institutional frameworks that govern employment and wages in the particular region also affect this factor. As most of the scholars and economic experts consent, Singapore has established macroeconomic environment that is favourable to growth and foster private sector activities, hence swaying economic growth. Precisely, most states are categorised as nations that are highly regulated as the states influence both economic and civil behaviour. This is done by use of restrictive rules where the rights of an individual as well as their preferences are subjected to the ultimate goal of their countries (Kirton and Greene 2010, p. 128).
Contrastingly, this nations labour market functions moderately free from government interventions, even with limited arrangement of protective labour laws; there are minimal restrictions from the state. Even though government interventions are limited, the state has the duty of determining wages. This is evidenced by formation of a commission to address the labour unrest with the main aim to advice the government on wage policies as well as recommend wage increases that are related to observed increase in productivity. Majority of the firms in Singapore adopt these recommendations. In doing so, Singapore has been able to keep the pressure of inflation under control as they promote an inclusive economic growth (Singapore Year book of Manpower Statistics, 2010 2010).
Diverse Economic Structure
With relevance to the changing integration and the rapid increase in the globalisation, trade is noted to play a key role in economic growth of several countries. For this reason, migration of labour is a key factor noted in the economic growth of several countries (Labour and social trends in ASEAN 2010 2010). However, this migration is biased as empirical research indicates that most of the movements are into OECD countries. This biased movement causes an imbalanced workforce into these regions. Aided by advancements in technology, communication systems, improved transport facilities, as well as swelling competition in the global market, both the labour outflow and labour inflow across the regions and within the region is unfair.
In the OECD countries, the revenue from the petroleum is enhancing development projects, thereby leading to a robust infrastructure development, economic growth as well as easing provision of public amenities to their citizen. These points blended together make these regions lucrative, thus attracting high foreign labour force. Singapore as one of the nations that benefits from a more diversified economic structure in respect to the abundance of oil GCC economy has a good percentage of their workforce that comprises of foreigners (Reports on Wages in Singapore, 2010 2011). Despite the population growth rate in Singapore, the percentage of foreign labour force is still above the domestic labour dew to the high demand.
Controlling Inflow of Foreign Employees
According to Barney and Hesterly (2005) Singapore’s labour market display a considerable division along public and private sectors, and is accompanied by distorted employment and wage policies. In addition, as a matter of concern, due to the increasing foreign workforce in Singapore that is outsizing the native workers, there is a clear difference between foreign and local employees. In an attempt to respond to the rising non-resident employees in Singapore and tame the rapid entry of foreign population, the nation has introduced certain stratagems to curtail the influx, and, at the same time, to encourage employment of domestic workers. Some of the measures include permit requirement for foreign recruits, while at the same time introduced incentives to support job creations that targets the natives.
Ducanes and Abella (2008) note that Singapore foreign labour management depends on immigration rules that are majorly in form of work permits. In their bid to manage this constantly rising number of foreign workforce in the country, the government of Singapore has created four different categories of permits to assist in controlling both the quality of workers, as well as the quantity of foreign employees entering Singapore. The work permits are differentiated by the level of the skills, permit duration, the country of origin, and the sector of work. In doing this, the Singapore authorities have four distinct permit types. These are employment pass, work permit for unskilled workers, both entry and re-entry permits, and work permit for skilled workers (Billett 2006, p. 76). Thus, to manage the foreign labour workforce effectively, the Singapore authorities apply high levies to relatively less-skilled workers as compared to high skilled workers. This attempts to put off both the unskilled and the less-skilled workforce.
The Age Factor in Diverse Labour Force
Another issue of concern to the Singapore labour management is the age concern of the adult population of 45 years and above. In addition to the oil GCC, most of the East Asian countries, Singapore included, have private sectors integrated into an overall economic growth for their nations. More specifically is in respect to their manufacturing industry that produces internationally competitive goods. As a result, Singapore is more technologically dependent posing challenge to the older generation workforce. Karmel and Woods (2004) indicate that both personal and organisational factors outline the employability of the ageing generation. On one hand, the organisational factors that affect the workforce of ageing generations include advancement and further development that the firms provide to the aged, opportunities for employment, and their capacity to handle the new and advancing technological machines that are prevalent in most firms. Across all age groups, people acquire and exercise a diverse capabilities as well as interest.
Thus, mature age group is not an exception in this process. Unquestionably, through the process of growth, people experience different difficulties that increase their knowledge as well as capabilities (Kossen and Pedersen 2008, p. 74). Even after considering that the old individuals may lose strength to respond faster to work requirements, the more extensive knowledge gained over the years of work could compensate the lost energy (McIntosh 2001, p. 18). Consequently, in consideration the case of Singapore that has a few old age people at the work places, most of the literature that asserts that the majority of the youths in this country are more qualified to operate the modern machines with high technology.
In contrast, the older counterparts have less qualification to utilise the modern machines that are vital in the manufacturing industry, which drives a better part of the Singapore economy. Thus, the ageing population is fewer in the production companies that reflect in the entire Singapore workforce (Progress Report on Motion on “Building an inclusive society for all” 2012). Nonetheless, the Singapore situation is more serious as majority of the population is composed of ageing individuals, which is noted to result in an improved healthcare combined with lower birth rate as well as lower death rate.
Unlike the general expectations of majority that the ageing population should occupy the professional and management positions, administrative as well as supportive services in the workforce. The Singapore labour workforce reflects a meagre 10% of the ageing working population. Indeed, this reveals the relative low education level in the older generation. Population Size and Growth, Singapore Department of Statistics (2000) indicates that most of the ageing people are employed in unskilled or low-skilled labour with most of the senior positions that ought to have been reserved for the aged occupied by the younger generations. This is a result of the disparity in education level, increased technological proficiency required and demand to bring up valued families.
In addition, Kossen and Pedersen (2008, p. 78) assert that most of the ageing population in Singapore prefers part time contracts as opposed to the full time contracts. This form of work characteristic portrayed by the ageing workers makes the employees prefer the younger workers and take the aged as their last choice. Subsequently, there emerge to be a plain mismatch between the kinds of duties that the ageing populating of Singapore are engaging in and the kind of work that the younger people engage in. In so doing, the ageing population often tends to retire earlier, thus leaving the workforce for the younger generations, who are now considered the pillars of Singapore’s economic growth. This disparity can be addressed through an advance education that can focus on the older generations (Billett and Somerville 2004, p. 314).
The Gender Equation
Another conspicuous concern of work force management noticed in the Singapore work force is the ration of female to male in the workforce. The female population in the Singapore workforce is considerably lower. This is attributed to the demanding work force of the Singapore economy. Consequently, in response to solutions that would incorporate both female and the ages in the workforce, the policy makers recommended a flexible wage system (Mahtani and Vemon 2010, p. 31). In this flexible wage system (FWS), three components were proposed to harmonise workforce. The three components are meant to increase variable annual components of wages that should show the performance of the firms or the individuals, likewise the committee proposed a monthly variable components and a wage system that is withdrawn from a superiority basis. Despite the fact that the youths held senior offices, the wage system could still support the older generation to earn higher than the younger people in senior positions did. This could possibly help the nation to retain the older generation workforce.
Singapore remains a multicultural labour market that calls for diverse skills for effective management. With the continuous influx of foreigners into the labour market, the government has put necessary strategies to curb the menace. On the other hand, the personal factors that shape the ageing population in the Singapore workforce include their interest, effort they are willing to put in learning and operating new and advanced technological machines, and their educational levels. Managing a youthful workforce also requires a flexible leadership style to consider the needs of this generation.
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