Average Singapore workers salary from $2,400 to $3,100 in 10 years

Salary is never enough...Indisputable fact of life

The interpretation can be misleading: $70 increment per year to achieve the target of $3,100 within 10 years? ($3,100 - $2,400 = $700 within 10 years; so $70/year.)

Or does it refer only to the median wage for the starting salary of the average Singapore workers? And how do you define 'average', by the way???

Raising the wages of the average Singapore worker by one-third in the next decade is one target of the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC).

This would mean moving from a median wage of $2,400 today to about $3,100 in 10 years.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that to achieve this, Singapore must have workers with top quality skills and make the island one of the top liveable cities in the world.

He was speaking at a dialogue on the ESC Report and Budget 2010.

Singapore has never had it as good as now, and for the next five to ten years, said the Finance Minister.

The opportunities play to the country's strengths and its companies.

One area is that of urbanisation, with prospects in water management and sanitation, and organising a city that's liveable.

Mr Tharman said: "Everything to do with urban management, water, sanitation, clean air, traffic management, organising a city that is liveable, that is something we have some experience in, and where we have something to offer and something we are seeing a growing number of Singapore companies developing as leading specialists.

"So it's a trend that will play to our advantage. And it's not just Asia, it's an emerging market as a whole. The number one problem that they have is water management.

"The second reason why things have never been so good for us is the middle-class services - there's a huge wave of demand emerging in Asia from healthcare, travel, better education, entertainment, financial services, things that play to our strength, things that play to the experience we have and the products we have introduced in the market over the years and we have a whole slew of Singapore companies."

But a bigger challenge is to meet these opportunities with a limited manpower.

Mr Tharman said: "It's a bit of a puzzle as to why despite a good education system, good schools system and one of the better rated university system in the world, we are not achieving as much with the workforce in terms of skills, expertise and therefore productivity - there is a gap.

"And it requires a different motivation, moving beyond paper qualifications towards wanting to become expert on the job, more of us must want to be like that.

"Not just wanting to do something competently, being honest, being diligent but being very good at it.

"And how do you get this different motivation going? It's not just about incentives, it's not the promise of bonuses, it is the feeling that they are contributing to the company as a whole and the way the industry is moving ahead.

"That motivation is important. And secondly, they want to feel empowered."

Mr Tharman went on to say: "What we really have to do when we talk about raising productivity is raise our game in every regard - higher skills, higher standards, higher aspirations, transform our economy in every sector so that we can take advantage of these opportunities.

"Grow productivity, grow wages and grow profits. That's what it really boils down to.

"The opportunities are large, the challenge of achieving growth with a limited labour supply is also daunting but we can raise our game and make the most of these opportunities in the next five to ten years."

One way is to adopt the three "R" strategy - Repositioning businesses, Restructuring processes and taking Responsibility for the quality of workers.

Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "Putting in incentives like profit sharing so that the workforce is motivated to raise their productivity and help the company improve the overall productivity.

"But productivity is also a partnership. It's not just about a company making efforts, it also involves the workers, so workers must take responsibility for their own skills upgrading."

In their efforts to enhance productivity, Singapore companies were also encouraged not to repeat some of the mistakes made in other countries.

Ministers on the panel emphasised that improving productivity levels does not necessarily mean down-sizing the workforce. Also, making workers work longer hours doesn't necessarily improve productivity.

Some 600 members from the Singapore Business Federation took part in the dialogue.

From Channel NewsAsia, "ESC targets $3,100 median wage for S'pore worker".


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