Ministry of Manpower cautioned against Singapore producing too many graduates who can’t find enough good jobs – a predicament South Korea and Taiwan find themselves in today


MOM flags potential graduate-glut problem

Chuan-Jin says S’pore must ensure that it continues to generate good jobs for its graduate job seekers


ACTING Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday cautioned against Singapore producing too many graduates who can’t find enough good jobs – a predicament South Korea and Taiwan find themselves in today.

“Their relentless pursuit of paper qualifications resulted in a glut of graduates,” he told Parliament during the Committe of Supply debate on the manpower ministry. “The director-general of Taiwan’s Ministry of Education stated that ‘the abundance of (university) places had undermined the quality of degrees and created a skills mismatch in the job market. People became over-educated and underemployed.”

Singapore should not take for granted that it would not face these problems in the future, he said. He noted that by 2020, Singapore would see 40 per cent cohort participation in its local universities. In addition, there would also be many pursuing private or overseas degrees.

“In theory, this can mean that we have an increasing pool of better educated and skilled workforce,” he said. “We should be better able to move up the value chain.”

But these jobs would only be created by good companies, he said. And these companies would only be here if there’s a healthy economy and a business-friendly environment.

“If such companies are drawn elsewhere, those jobs will not be here,” Mr Tan added. “Hence, we must ensure that our future economy will continue to generate good jobs for our graduate job seekers.”

Pointing to the potential danger of producing too many graduates, he said: “We will need to watch this development carefully and help Singaporeans make informed educational choices.”

The acting minister also reported that the foreign manpower tightening measures introduced over the past years are starting to “bite”, with foreign employment growth at its lowest in five years. He noted that a number of the measures will kick in fully this year and in 2015

But he said there’s still some way to go in reducing Singapore’s overall dependence on foreign workers. Meanwhile, the government is doing more to raise the quality of the foreign workers in Singapore.

“The measures that we have announced in the Budget this year signal our move to raise the quality of our foreign workforce and by extension, productivity,” he said.

The government has unveiled a new market-based skills recognition framework for the construction sector to encourage firms to retain experienced basic-skilled R2 Work Permit holders for a longer period and on higher pay. “With this, companies can upgrade their R2 workers to ‘Higher Skilled’, or R1 status, and will not have to bear the higher foreign worker levies that we announced in Budget 2014.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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