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How Singaporean Workers Can Redefine The Future Of Work

Being the only resource in Singapore, workers can play a big role in shaping what the future of work looks like.

EveryWorkermatters in the future of work in Singapore

This article was written in collaboration with the Labour Movement. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of based on our research. is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.

How many times have we heard that Singapore has no natural resources that we can rely on, and that her only resource is people – i.e. you and me.

This makes it all the more remarkable that our GDP per capita is among the highest in the world and we enjoy a high standard of living that is second to none. What is also true is that we are enjoying the fruits of the labour that the generations before us have put in.

Singapore and Singaporeans cannot simply rest on our laurels. Perhaps ominously heralded by COVID-19 and geopolitical tensions globally – the future of work is unfolding before us. If Singapore is to continue prospering for future generations, every one of today’s generation of workers in our economy is going to matter.

Workers Remain At The Heart Of Singapore’s Economy

With workers expected to continue playing a central role in the future of Singapore, we are in a great position to co-create the modern work environment we wish for. This will take into consideration that workers today would have vastly different aspirations to build a fulfilling career, the impacts we want to make and commitments to our families, compared to our forefathers.

The government understands this. Through the Forward Singapore initiative, the government hopes to bring together Singaporeans to “examine our values and aspirations, build consensus, and so refresh our social compact”.

NTUC has also kickstarted the #EveryWorkerMatters conversations, with the aim to understand workers’ concerns in the modern working environment and champion their aspirations. NTUC hopes to engage at least 20,000 workers, across life stages and socio-economic statuses, in a variety of formats, including dialogues, focus group discussions and surveys.

Continue Contributing To Singapore’s Economic Growth

Earning a livelihood in Singapore has become a hotbed topic given the high inflation and rising interest rate environment today. For ordinary workers, we are feeling the pinch with higher food prices, higher utility bills, higher oil prices and more.

The world is also rapidly changing around us. Geopolitical tensions are rising, technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and competition is increasingly global.

Thankfully, the strength of Singapore’s economy enables us to start discussing the future of work more openly and broadly – rather than kick it down the road because of other pressing needs.

One reason for our economic progress and strength is perhaps because we enjoy a high resident employment rate of nearly 82% (for those between 25 and 64). Moreover, the latest Manpower Statistics in June also underscored the fact that there are 1.68 vacant jobs for every unemployed person in Singapore.

To keep the Singapore engine running strong, workers have to be engaged in their jobs. This will continue to uphold the employment rate in Singapore – contributing to economic stability. How can workers be more engaged in the workplace? In a Telegram poll that we conducted recently, almost 50% of respondents were keen to have training that would help them progress in their current work.

Potentially, this will also bridge a skills gap and/or job desirability concern in Singapore’s job market – the fact that there remain nearly 1.68 job openings for every unemployed person here. This will also address the first question in NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters conversation – how can we enable workers to upgrade their skills and compete in this new environment?

There are already many initiatives in place, such as the SkillsFuture credits that the government has provided to individuals to encourage skills upgrading, as well as NTUC’s Company Training Committee initiative launched in April 2019 to support workers in achieving better work prospects. NTUC LearningHub has also leveraged its ecosystem of industry partners to help workers gain skills and propel their careers.

But more can be done, and this is where you can share your opinions and wishes in the  #EveryWorkerMatters conversation.

Building A Fulfilling Career, On Your Own Terms

As Singapore is a developed economy and a relatively rich country, we can expect workers to have more personalised and even ambitious aspirations. This should be seen as a strength rather than a case for divisiveness.

Today, there are many different types of work arrangements available, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed tested work-from-home and work-from-anywhere models. There are also more avenues that allow us to build towards a career we aspire for.

At the same time, workers of every age group will have varying job concerns. For ageing workers, they will have anxieties about whether their employers will keep them over younger employees. Middle-aged employees will be more concerned with being sandwiched between caring for elderly parents and young children.

For those just entering the workforce, their concerns will again be entirely different – likely around how they can climb the corporate ladder and build newer skills.

This is the second aspect of what the #EveryWorkerMatters conversation aims to answer: how can we give stronger assurance to support our workers as their life needs evolve?

As we may be able to tell, these anxieties are not new. There are already existing programmes in place to address some of these concerns too. Nevertheless, the #EveryWorkerMatters conversations aim to discern growing concerns in order to tackle them from a new perspective. The idea is that every generation will have varying preferences for a solution.

Every Worker Does Matter To The Singapore Economy

While other groups of workers may have more aspirational concerns, there also exist more vulnerable groups of workers that need protection against the rising costs of living and changes in the workplace.

This is the final question of NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters conversation: How can we protect our vulnerable workers?

For lower-wage workers, the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is one of the central schemes that provide some certainty on wage and clarity on career progression. Such workers can also access other schemes, including the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS).

Apart from wages, well-being is another area that vulnerable workers can be supported in. Extending the definition of vulnerable workers, looking after the well-being of fresh graduates, senior workers, pregnant employees, and even those who have to care for loved ones who are dependent on them will make work in Singapore more inclusive.

While not as obvious, another vulnerable group may be self-employed persons. Many of them may be working on their own terms and even earning a decent wage. However, they may not be contributing to their CPF accounts beyond their MediSave contributions – which may leave them vulnerable in the future. Adding on to this, the self-employed also do not enjoy certain safety nets that employees do when they fall ill or are unable to fund work (i.e. made redundant).

Read Also: Progressive Wage Model: How Much Will Singapore Employers Have To Pay Their Workers

Every Voice Counts In This National Conversation

Rather than take a top-down approach, the #EveryWorkerMatters conversations intend to collect diverse opinions from workers as the first of three phases. More than just taking feedback on concerns about their work, it aims to hear the priorities and aspirations of the modern worker in Singapore.

You can participate in the #EveryWorkerMatters conversations by sharing your views. On the website, you can learn more about the initiative, as well as participate directly in the online survey.

Workers are best situated to speak about what they wish for in their work and careers, and what they are willing to give up to achieve their goals. Armed with the modern worker’s concerns and aspirations, this will form the basis of what NTUC will work towards when they engage stakeholders including, the Government, employers, institutes of higher learning and civic society organisations, in the second phase.

In the third and final phase, NTUC aims to release its findings and recommendations from these conversations and dialogue with stakeholders by mid-2023. They will achieve this by engaging the Government through its Forward Singapore exercise.