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Keeping it real on jobs and competition
Publication Date : 07-08-2013
A survey by The Straits Times, which shows that six in 10 people think their jobs are good, reveals a high degree of job satisfaction in Singapore.
The finding helps place in perspective social chatter that tends to focus on stress at work and unfair employment practices.
While those concerns are not to be brushed aside, it is clear that a maturing Singapore economy has produced confident and positive workers who can work well as a team.
The definition of a good job - one which offers satisfactory pay and benefits, work-life balance, good employers and colleagues, and career advancement - is a comprehensive one that encompasses almost all that an employee could ask for.
Another favourable finding - in which 60 per cent of respondents think a university degree is not needed for a good post - shows that getting paper qualifications is not the be-all and end-all of most career seekers' lives as is often believed.
What would benefit the nation more, of course, is a greater emphasis on skills that a globalised marketplace needs and a good mix of talents and abilities in economic, social and cultural spheres.
Concerns expressed over the future centred on competition from foreigners and the questionable work attitude of the young. This is worrying but also ironically reassuring.
Prejudice towards others and a weakening work ethic should certainly be resisted. But what is reassuring is the realism that these concerns reveal.
Competition from foreigners is a fact of life and no barriers can be erected to fully insulate Singaporeans from it. The choice is between having a regulated inflow of foreigners to enhance overall capabilities and relying solely on an all-Singaporean team to play against much larger foreign competitors.
Competition from both within and without can serve as an antidote for any poor work attitudes or unrealistic job expectations among younger workers.
In the final analysis, economic realism is the key attribute that younger Singaporeans will need to survive during periods of slower growth and heightened competition from abroad.
The capacity to adapt to much-changed circumstances is evident in the response of several recession-hit European countries, as the International Labour Organisation notes.
Wages there have been lowered through flexibility in hiring and working time, and social security contributions reduced.
Europe's youth have been hit badly by unemployment, to the extent of raising fears of a "no-future generation".
Younger Singaporeans can avoid that fate by not taking for granted the nation's assets and prevailing conditions. Job markets here might change as competitors acquire new capabilities or learn to do more with less.