Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on Ensuring Singapore Remains Dynamic and Relevant with an Ageing Population
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2021
Ms Foo Mee Har:
To ask the Prime Minister how does the Government intend to respond to the combination of record low birth rates and ageing to ensure Singapore continues to be dynamic and relevant to the world.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
Low birth rates and an ageing population remain key demographic challenges for Singapore. Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR) has declined to a historic low of 1.10 in 2020. At the same time, life expectancy at birth has increased, reaching 83.9 years in 2020. With a declining TFR and an increasing life expectancy, our resident workforce will age and could shrink over time.
The Government regularly reviews and updates our population and economic strategies to respond to these demographic trends and ensure that Singapore remains dynamic and relevant in the global economy.
First, we must continue to make marriage and parenthood a national priority. Raising birth rates is the critical and most sustainable solution to our demographic challenges in the long term. Over the years, we have put in place a comprehensive suite of measures to support Singaporeans’ aspirations to start and raise their families, including parental leave, childcare support, housing support and cash grants. We have also introduced a one-off Baby Support Grant of $3,000 to reassure couples to proceed with their parenthood plans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond these, we are also partnering employers and the community to strengthen the whole-of-society ecosystem that is Made for Families.
Second, we help our seniors remain active and enable them to work for as long as they are able and wish to. An ageing workforce does not have to be an unproductive one. With higher education levels and continual skills upgrading, Singaporeans can continue to contribute meaningfully as long as they remain healthy and engaged. We will support efforts by employers to implement age-friendly workplace practices to better retain the expertise and experience of our senior workers. The Government has also committed to raise the retirement and re-employment ages to 65 and 70 respectively by 2030, and raise CPF contributions rates for senior workers, to support workers to continue to work in their senior years and maintain financial independence.
Third, we enable Singaporeans to access good jobs and opportunities as we transform our economy, while taking into account our demographic realities.
a. We are broadening and deepening our external linkages, including in new growth areas such as sustainability and Digital Economy; and strengthening our innovative capacity and our competitive positioning in global supply chains.
b. Domestically, we are making a concerted push—through the refresh of our Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)—to ensure that our industries and firms are well-positioned to seize these new economic opportunities, create good jobs for Singaporeans, and to uplift the productivity and wages of our workers through upskilling efforts.
c. The Government will continue to partner businesses, trade associations and chambers, and unions to help our workers adapt to industry shifts and remain productive, including through SkillsFuture and the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
d. Where manpower and skills shortages become constraints, we must then complement the local workforce, and welcome global talent and foreign manpower to work alongside us. We will continue to refine our foreign workforce policy, while ensuring fair hiring practices, preserving a level playing field for Singaporeans and enabling skills transfer to our people.
Our people remain our greatest strength, enabling Singapore to punch above our weight with a strong economy despite our lack of natural resources. We will continue to partner Singaporeans and key stakeholders to update our strategies as our demographic trends evolve and our economy transforms, and drive Singapore forward to a new and dynamic future.