Tripartism in Singapore refers to the collaboration among unions, employers and the Government. The tripartite partners are the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
In an exercise highlighting the rise of Asia and the decline of traditional powerhouses, Singapore has come out tops in the world’s most comprehensive education rankings, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The economic think-tank which released its finding , May 13, 2015, pulled together results from several surveys, including “gold-standard” Programmed for International Student Assessment done in 2012 on 510,000 15-year-olds.
Mr. Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director, told The Straits Times via e-mail: “In a world where the kind of things that are easy to teach and easy to test, are also easy to digitise, automate and outsource, countries like Singapore may need to put greater emphasis on students developing creative, critical thinking and collaborative skills, and build character attributes such as mindfulness, curiosity, courage and resilience.”
Singapore Education Minister Mr. Heng Swee Keat agreed, saying it is important to “build skills of the future”, which include creativity, teamwork and communication. “So this gives us a good solid base to continue that work. And also we have to continue to think about the skills that, in the future, will matter to our young people.” he said.
(The above is an extract from a front page article, published in “The Straits Times” dated Thursday, May 14, 2015.)
Traditional workforce research focuses on workers and their skills. However, when we examine issues such as productivity and how skills impact the workplace, it is also important to look at what skills jobs demand. Job skills and worker skills are very different concepts. The former is a demand concept while the latter concerns the supply of skills.
This Research Report on the Skills Utilisation (SU) in Singapore project focuses on skills utilisation in jobs located in Singapore, how skills are distributed across industries and occupations, and how skills utilisation may be explained by other factors. The benefits of creating skills utilisation data will help inform the appropriateness of the Continuing Education and Training (CET) supply strategy, the relevance of Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ), especially the Employability Skills (ES) framework, and knowledge on the extent of skill mismatches in Singapore.
“In our next wave of development, we will build a first-rate system of continuing education and training: learning throughout life.
It will intertwine education and the world of work in ways that strengthen and enrich both.
It will make the workplace a major site of learning. It will enable every Singaporean to maximise his or her potential, from young and through life. It will build an advanced economy and ensure us of a fair society.”
– Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the SkillsFuture Council
“Today, the strains on this market are becoming increasingly apparent. In advanced economies, demand for high-skill labor is now growing faster than supply, while demand for low-skill labor remains weak. Labor’s overall share of income, or the share of national income that goes to worker compensation, has fallen, and income inequality is growing as lower-skill workers—including 75 million young people—experience unemployment, underemployment, and stagnating wages.
According to The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds these trends gathering force and spreading to China and other developing economies, as the global labor force approaches 3.5 billion in 2030. Based on current trends in population, education, and labor demand, the report projects that by 2020 the global economy could face the following hurdles:
- 38 million to 40 million fewer workers with tertiary education (college or postgraduate degrees) than employers will need, or 13 percent of the demand for such workers
- 45 million too few workers with secondary education in developing economies, or 15 percent of the demand for such workers
- 90 million to 95 million more low-skill workers (those without college training in advanced economies or without even secondary education in developing economies) than employers will need, or 11 percent oversupply of such workers
The dynamics of the global labor market will make these challenges even more difficult. The population in China, as well as in many advanced economies, is aging, reducing the growth rate of the global labor supply; most of the additions to the global labor force will occur in India and the “young” developing economies of Africa and South Asia. Aging will likely add 360 million older people to the world’s pool of those not participating in the labor force, including 38 million college-educated workers, whose skills will already be in short supply.
Businesses operating in this skills-scarce world must know how to find talent pools with the skills they need and to build strategies for hiring, retaining, and training the workers who will give them competitive advantage. This will include finding ways to retain more highly skilled women and older workers. Businesses will also need to significantly step up their activities in shaping public education and training systems in order to build pipelines of workers with the right skills for the 21st-century global economy.