The recent headlines scream, “Singapore’s economy suffers worst quarterly performance”. The actual statistics are worse than predicted. The economy shrank 13.2% in Q2 2020 vs Q2 of last year and it is predicted to shrink 5-7% in 2020. This means growth gained over the last few years may be wiped out.
Sectors Hardest Hit
Construction, transportation, business services (especially real estate), accommodation and food, entertainment and tourism-related services are hardest hit. Within these sectors, big and small companies had mass retrenchment or deep pay cuts. Examples include Resorts World Singapore, Eagle Services, Singapore Airlines, Grab, Gojek, Airbnb and even LinkedIn has axed staff. Staffs that were let go were often expats on Employment Pass or S-Pass; one of the main reasons is that their salaries are not supported by recently given government grants compared to a Singapore PRs and Citizens.
What Is Next for Singapore?
Singapore will now focus on creating jobs for locals (Singapore PR / Citizens) and double on digitalisation. For industries that have permanently changed, the Government will help them reinvent themselves to pivot to new markets and products.
Mr Chan Chun Sing recently said “Some businesses are acting now. The good old days will not return. Many of the mass-market tourism, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and social entertainment companies are thinking and acting along these lines already”. Many have expanded to online events and services, to build new revenue and adjust to the new way of working.
“With remote work, more global job opportunities for our workers will come. But it also means that other workers, in other countries, can do our jobs from their homes. This will affect many PMET jobs, which can be done virtually or through automation and AI”, he added.
The Circuit Breaker measures made companies realise they must digitalise operations and make supply chains more resilient to lockdowns. Digitalisation journeys that could take years to complete have accelerated. Brick and mortar stores have moved on the e-commerce bandwagon. Business shifts from retail shops to logistics facilities and workers move from retail sales to online customer management and chatbots.
In our critical healthcare sector, AI is used to optimise hospital management like managing large numbers of patient beds. AI will help doctors make better decisions and improved care pathways for patients using predictive modelling.
With national emphasis on innovation and Industry 4.0, as well as additional resources and upskilling opportunities, Singapore has to leverage on AI, digital technologies, automation, to transform industries.
Possible Tightening of Employment Pass?
Recently, 47 employers were placed on the Fair Consideration Framework for discriminatory hiring. 30 from the financial services had a high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities. NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng noted that the level of anxiety among Singapore Citizens over foreign expats working here has heightened and suggest that Employment Pass policies may be tightened by the government.
What all these mean for my Singapore PR / Citizenship application?
If you are in industries like Biomedical, Digital Technologies, IT, AI, Cyber-Security, there is no better time to apply for your Singapore PR or Citizenship. There is still a critical shortage of local citizens who are required to staff these emerging roles.
Given that there may be EP restrictions in the future, if you absolutely want a permanent place in Singapore, hesitate no further! This is the time for you to apply for your Singapore Permanent Residency and/or Citizenship.
You should also check out “Five mistake to avoid when selecting an agency for PR Application”