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No Easing Foreign Labour: Lee Hsien Loong

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are concerned about manpower and hope that the government’s restriction on foreign workers will be relaxed, noted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Malay Muslim Business Conference 2014 at Orchard Hotel yesterday.

However, he said that the government has to manage the “total numbers” and what Singapore can accommodate.

To address the need for manpower, the government has put in place various schemes and grants to make SME jobs more attractive to Singaporeans and to raise their productivity. Raising productivity levels and hiring better workers will help SMEs to be in a stronger position to venture overseas.

An excerpt of his speech is below:

I know that SMEs are concerned about manpower, in fact very worried about it, especially as we reduce the inflow of foreign workers. All SMEs want more foreign workers, and it is not just Malay-Muslim SMEs. In fact we are allowing in a continuing flow of foreign workers so that the number of foreign workers here is continuing to grow, although not as fast as before, and not as much as the employers and companies would like. We know that even this is still not enough for the companies, and that SMEs have to turn away business because they do not have the workers to service this new business. But unfortunately we cannot ease up on the foreign worker limits and I hope companies will understand because we have to manage the inflow, we have to manage what we can accommodate in Singapore and we have to manage the total numbers. So what we can do is to help SMEs to maximise the workers’ contributions, whether they are local workers or foreign workers. And meanwhile we will also help SMEs to make jobs more attractive to Singaporeans, to raise their productivity and therefore you make the most of the workers you have.

Last year we launched the SME Talent Programme (STP) to match Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students to SMEs. And under the STP, the government will sponsor the courses for the Polytechnic and ITE students. We will work with the SMEs to provide sign-on bonuses and job contracts for the students after they graduate. And it has had some success because many Polytechnic and ITE students have shown interest in the STP. I understand that SMCCI will partner trade associations and Mendaki to promote the STP, by identifying participating Malay-Muslim SMEs and matching them to Polytechnic and ITE students and then strengthening these SMEs’ human resource capabilities and business strategies.

This article is courtesy of the People’s Action Party. The original article can be found here.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. streetwalker

    January 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Those SMEs can always hire Singaporeans, so why worry?

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