Updated February 28th, 2024 at 18:39 IST

Singapore to remain open for foreign talent amid slower population growth

Wong addressed concerns about Singapore's declining resident total fertility rate, which dropped below 1% for the first time in the country's history in 2023.

Reported by: Business Desk
Singapore | Image:Unsplash
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Singapore’s workforce challenges: Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong shared the necessity for the country to remain open to foreign talent due to slower population and resident workforce growth, which are insufficient to meet the demands of the economy. Speaking in parliament, Wong highlighted the importance of foreign manpower, particularly in new growth areas such as the digital economy, where there is a global shortage of skilled talent.

Wong addressed concerns about Singapore's declining resident total fertility rate (TFR), which dropped below one per cent for the first time in the country's history in 2023. He underscored the comprehensive system of controls in place to regulate the quality and quantity of work-pass holders across all workforce levels.

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Highlighting the government's plans to sustain annual growth between 2 and 3 per cent over the next decade, Wong said that Singapore needs to continuously improve its social support systems. He stressed the importance of sustaining growth to secure a better future for Singaporeans and outlined how Budget 2024 builds on efforts to strengthen social support.

In his round-up speech, Wong underlined the importance of increasing value-add to command better prices in world markets, which benefits workers through higher wages. He also added to the role of remaining attractive to high-quality investments, as they drive innovative activities and productivity improvements.

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Responding to concerns raised by Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh regarding the sustainability of growth, Wong acknowledged the importance of sustainable growth and highlighted government efforts to update planning processes and infrastructure development to address evolving challenges. These efforts include ramping up the construction of public housing and worker dormitories for foreign workers in key industries.

The three-day parliamentary debate saw participation from 61 Members of Parliament, reflecting the significance of the issues discussed in shaping Singapore's future trajectory.

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(With PTI inputs)

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Published February 28th, 2024 at 18:39 IST