With one of the highest income inequalities in the world, low-wage workers in Singapore must feel the sting of the island nation’s ever-increasing costs of living. It is quite contradictory for Singaporean workers to be earning meagre salaries, considering that we pride our people as our only natural resource.
While we can sit around and blame the government and everyone else in between for the predicament that we are in. We can, and should also, look at the measures that have already been put in place. We should ask ourselves how low-wage workers could potentially “exploit” these schemes and initaitives. Improving productivity, employability and enhancing skill sets will go a long way towards making every worker more valuable as an employee.
Introduced at Budget 2015, every Singaporean Citizen aged 25 years old and above will receive $500 to offset government-supported courses.
SkillsFuture is meant to increase the citizen population’s skill level and aid them, as part of a larger framework, in continuously improving their skill sets.
On its own, it may not go so far as to contribute to a direct pay raise. However, when used with other schemes in place, it may improve a worker’s employability and pay grade.
Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ)
Singapore’s Workforce Development Authority’s (WDA’s) has a framework for Singapore’s workforce, and offers a range of courses and skills upgrading programmes under two broad categories – Foundational skills and Industry-related skills.
The training provided under both these categories are heavily subsidized with the aim of improve employability, competency and productivity.
Employment and Employability Institute (e2i)
NTUC’s e2i was formed in 2008 with the purpose of getting Singaporeans better jobs. The e2i aids workers in clinching better jobs with higher pay through a combination of coaching, organising career fairs, matching workers to jobs, upgrading workers skill sets and rolling out productivity initiatives.
The reason why the Jobs Bank was introduced in 2014 was to ensure that every Singaporean has a fair shot at getting a job before it gets advertise to a foreigner. In recent months, the government has also been tougher on foreign labour, and are clamping down on firms who do not give Singaporeans a fair chance at obtaining a job.
While this scheme will not directly contribute towards increasing the skill sets of a low-wage worker, it is a valuable source of information for the kind of jobs being offered and the skills required to get them. Low-wage workers can get insights to the type of jobs in hot demand by employers, and equip themselves with the relevant skills to take on these jobs in the industries they want to work in,
Along the way, we hope they score for themselves a pay rise.
At the end of the day, improving skill sets and productivity are key ingredients that would help a worker get better wages.
Workers must do their part to be paid higher. At the other end of the spectrum, the government can and should continue to do more to ensure that workers are fairly remunerated, and that corporations are paying out a larger margin of their profits to the rank and file employees who have contributed significantly, instead of hoarding cash for bonus payouts to top management.
This has been somewhat driven in the form of the progressive wage model, which is another initiative that low-wage workers can tap on to increase their pay package. Again, workers need to ensure that they improve their skill sets and employability to get the pay raise they want.
With the strong mandate given to the government in General Election 2015, we’re sure more will be done to not only protect Singaporeans and their jobs, but also to boost employability and pay raise to all Singaporeans.
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