Wed, Aug 12, 2020 – 2:47 PM
UPDATED Wed, Aug 12, 2020 – 3:58 PM
SINGAPORE'S financial sector has created 22,000 net jobs between 2015 and 2019, and of these, three out of four jobs went to locals, said a top official from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday.
In the first half of this year, employment rose by about 1,500 as well, based on MAS's estimates, said Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director at the MAS in a speech at a virtual job fair organised by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF). Again, locals – meaning Singapore citizens and permanent residents – continued to take up at least 75 per cent of the jobs created.
To add, 15,000 local jobs created between 2015 and 2019 were at salaries within the top 40 per cent of 2016 salaries. The median income of locals in the sector last year was S$7,600, well above the national median of S$4,600.
All in, Singapore's financial sector – which accounted for 13.3 per cent of the Republic's GDP in 2019 – employed more than 170,000 workers last year.
Retrenchments in the sector so far this year have been modest, Ms Loh added, citing data from the Ministry of Manpower that showed retrenchment in Q1 2020 for the finance and insurance services was similar to the average quarterly retrenchment in 2019. About 310 workers were retrenched in the first quarter of this year, compared with the quarterly average of 325 last year.
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"As the sector has grown and strengthened its competitiveness as a global financial centre in Asia, it has created good jobs for locals," said Ms Loh.
She added that Singapore has to remain open and "will continue to welcome global talent that complement our workforce".
"Employers must, however, hire in a responsible manner and commit to growing the local talent pool."
Ms Loh noted that one key prong of Singapore's developmental strategy remains to attract more global and regional headquarter functions of the financial institutions here to serve the broader Asian region. When a "diversity of talent from the global workforce" is brought to Singapore to build up these new functions, the proportion of Singaporeans in these financial institutions may come under pressure.
But having more global and regional functions in the Republic should also mean more growth, good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans. This should also allow Singaporeans to tap the international footprint of these global financial institutions to gain overseas exposure, with some taking leadership positions overseas, she said.
This comes as more global and regional functions are being anchored in Singapore. As the financial sector dials up on digitalisation efforts and fires up new growth engines, financial institutions might need to bring in foreigners with the experience and skills that are not yet available locally, said Ms Loh.
"Most do so responsibly, by ensuring that they concurrently build the local talent pipeline in specialist expertise and groom locals into leadership positions, even as they bring in foreigners to plug immediate capability gaps."
To be sure, the job creation seen in the financial sector thus far comes as Singapore plunges into its sharpest recession since its independence. Against this backdrop, new job creation in the financial sector will slow, while retrenchments are likely to pick up, said Ms Loh.
"The performance of financial services and the sector's employment situation could continue to be creditable under current challenging circumstances, but we cannot be complacent. We must press on with the sector's transformation efforts, in investing in the workforce for the future."
Ms Loh said efforts to reskill and redeploy workers into new or expanded jobs have helped to avoid the retrenchment of staff who might otherwise be displaced. This contributed to the steady decline in retrenchments in the financial sector, from the peak of 2,300 in 2016 to 1,300 in 2019.
MAS and IBF are looking into extending training subsidies into next year, so as to provide "longer-term certainty and support for business and workers". The IBF Credit and training allowance support are originally due to expire end of this year.
In April this year, MAS raised the level of IBF course fee subsidies for all locals from 50-70 per cent to 90 per cent. IBF further provides a 5-per cent course fee credit, bringing the total course fee support to 95 per cent.
Financial institutions have also tapped on a training allowance grant.
MAS, together with IBF, are now looking to build an artificial intelligence platform with 13 financial institutions to automate the process of Read More – Source