Singapore Government Press Release

Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts

36th Storey, PSA Building, 460 Alexandra Road, Singapore 119963.

Tel: 3757794/5






Manpower is Singapore�s only resource. It is also a major limiting factor in our growth and could become an impediment to new investments and business expansion. We must therefore fully develop our manpower resources so as to hone our competitive edge and remain relevant in an increasingly competitive global environment. Hence, Singapore needs to develop constantly new capabilities and competencies.

One critical area is the development of a globally competitive knowledge-based (skilled) workforce. To achieve the vision of a knowledge-based workforce with core competencies, Singapore must have a comprehensive manpower strategy that will contribute to the enhancement of our economic competitiveness. We should look at manpower issues from a total national perspective and adopt an integrated and comprehensive strategy for meeting the national manpower needs in numbers and quality. An integrated approach will ensure that manpower planning, development and management remains well-coordinated and relevant to the needs of an evolving economy.

By adopting an integrated approach, we intend to develop a world-class workforce with capabilities and skills to succeed in the globalised knowledge economy. The development of a world-class workforce requires total commitment and effort on the part of the Government, trade unions, workers and employers. The new Ministry of Manpower will draw on the resources and participation of the labour movement and employers� organisations in the formulation and implementation of manpower policies. This will further strengthen the tripartism and achieve greater synergy.

Current Situation

Several ministries and Government agencies are currently involved in the planning, development and management of manpower. These crucial economic functions are undertaken by separate ministries and agencies and the distributed responsibilities have resulted in a lack of coordination in the strategic thrust and direction in manpower planning and development.

For example, the Economic Development Board is responsible for anticipating the manpower needs of new investments; the Productivity and Standards Board is tasked with skills and productivity upgrading; the International Manpower Programme under EDB and the Foreign Talent Unit under the Prime Minister�s Office is responsible for talent attraction; the Singapore Immigration regulates the admission of foreign talent through the issuance of employment passes; and the Ministry of Labour regulates the inflow of unskilled foreign workers. In addition, the Ministry of Labour also promotes stable and harmonious industrial relations, and safeguards workers� safety, health and welfare.

Ministry of Labour to Evolve into the Ministry of Manpower

In order to contribute even more to Singapore�s global competitiveness, the Government has decided to place all manpower planning, development and management issues under the charge of a single Ministry. The Ministry of Labour will be re-structured into a new Ministry of Manpower with effect 1 April 1998. As a central agency, the new Ministry will be in a better position to co-ordinate all critical manpower planning and management issues. The new Ministry will also put greater emphasis on collaboration with its partners (private sector, unions and government agencies), so that it will be able to align the efforts of all stakeholders to a national manpower vision. The new Ministry of Manpower will thus adopt an integrated manpower approach that looks at manpower from a total systems view.

Mission of the Ministry of Manpower

The mission of the Ministry of Manpower is to develop a globally competitive workforce in a sustainable manner. It will perform both promotional and regulatory roles in balancing our national manpower needs. The Ministry of Manpower�s roles will include manpower planning to maintain our competitive edge, continuous upgrading of workers to be a knowledge-based workforce, ensuring harmonious labour relations, attracting foreign talents to augment our local workforce, regulating the admission of foreign workers and managing them while they are working in Singapore, and providing a welfare structure conducive to the workforce.

Main Functions of the Ministry of Manpower

The main functions of the Ministry of Manpower will be:

The Ministry of Manpower�s approach will be to set the national policy formulation framework in consultation with the relevant agencies with the operational day-to-day work to be undertaken by the agencies themselves, such as FTU and EDB for foreign talent, and PSB, NTUC and SNEF for manpower development. However, within the Ministry of Manpower, there will be two new divisions namely the International Talent Division and the Manpower Development Division.


While the Ministry of Manpower undertakes manpower planning, development, management and promotion at the national level, agencies such as EDB, PSB, FTU will continue to administer their respective programmes within the overall manpower framework and directions set by the Ministry of Manpower.




Roles and Functions of Ministry of Manpower

1) Manpower Policy and Planning

Role: To achieve optimal manpower planning

� Long and short term manpower planning for the overall economy and by sector, including setting targets for pre-employment education/training in the universities, polytechnics and technical institutes;

� Co-ordination of manpower demand projections for various sectors of the economy under various agencies;

� Formulation of manpower policies, including foreign worker policies, retirement age for local workers, wage policy, etc; and

� Labour research on employment, labour market, wages and remuneration, productivity, etc.

2) Manpower Development

Role: To upgrade the workforce continuously to ensure it remains competitive and relevant

� Formulation of policies and programmes on skills upgrading, in-employment training and re-training, continuing education of workers and labour productivity;

� Skills certification and accreditation of foreign certification; and

� Implementation of manpower development programmes through training institutions and industry boards and the administration of national skills development programme.

3) International Talent Promotion

Role: To attract foreign talents to enhance our competitiveness

� Promotion, attraction and recruitment of foreign talent;

� Support and facilitation for Singaporeans overseas; and

� Establishing a "virtual" workforce overseas through external networks.

4) Labour Relations

Role: To ensure a harmonious working environment

� Trade unions;

� Industrial relations;

� Tripartism

� Employment standards;

� Conciliation and arbitration of labour disputes; and

� International labour matters including handling of foreign relations arising from employment of foreign workers.

5) Management of Foreign Manpower

Role: To regulate admission of foreign workers and manage foreigners working in Singapore

� Issue, renewal and cancellation of work passes for foreign workers as well as other related matters (ie today's WP and EP functions);

� Provision of services (eg conciliation of dispute, counselling services) for foreign workers;

� Enforcement actions against illegal foreign workers;

� Supervision of Employment Agencies.

6) Labour Welfare and Services

Role: To provide a welfare structure conducive to the workforce

� Industrial safety and health;

� Workmen's compensation;

� CPF;

� Job matching/placement for employers and employees;

� Promoting employment of local workforce.