Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what is the labour productivity growth during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic; and (b) if the productivity growth indicates an upward tick, what steps are being taken to promote the entrenchment of the productivity gains.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong
1. The Singapore economy contracted by 5.4% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, labour productivity, as measured by real value-added per actual hour worked, rose by 1.3%, as the total number of actual hours worked fell by a larger extent. This was due to the physical workplace closures implemented during the Circuit Breaker, as well as the subsequent phased resumption of activities last year. In the first half of 2021, labour productivity grew by 4.6% on a year-on-year basis, supported by the recovery in the Singapore economy.
2. To sustain Singapore’s productivity growth, it is important that we continue to transform our sectors and enterprises, and upgrade our workforce.
3. Our Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) chart the direction for our efforts to transform our sectors. We are currently refreshing the ITMs to meet the accelerated changes brought about by COVID-19. For each of the 23 ITM sectors, we will update our sectoral strategies to create and seize opportunities, and improve the productivity and wages of workers through digitalisation, innovation, internationalisation, the upskilling of workers, and job redesign.
4. The Government will continue to support efforts by our enterprises to uplift productivity through automation and training. For example, we have worked with Trade Associations and Chambers to set up a network of SME Centres that provide advisory services to our small- and medium-sized enterprises. We also have a comprehensive range of support to help businesses transform, including the Productivity Solutions Grant and SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit.
5. With COVID-19, the National Jobs Council was also formed to spearhead efforts to create jobs and training opportunities for local jobseekers. As at end-August 2021, over 140,000 local jobseekers have been placed into jobs and skills opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which allow them to pick up job-related skills and capabilities. Workforce training and upgrading will remain our top priority to enable our workers to seize the opportunities as the economy transforms.
6. Collectively, these initiatives will help to promote productivity improvements and we encourage companies and workers to take advantage of them.