Amidst the covid-19 pandemic and its many consequences, we are being forced to rethink a lot of what we have considered the norm. And this includes how and where we work. Working from home has taken a whole new meaning in the face of the pandemic and we are now learning that many of us can and should shift to a new normal in terms of the way we work. This could very well be the new normal for us all.
Working remotely has weakened deeply the link between having a business in Singapore and having that business run by a Singaporean here. This forces us to rethink our natural path into professional jobs whereas we save skilled labour jobs for foreigners. The pandemic has compelled us to think about how Singaporeans, despite having certain skills, go into PMET (professional, manager, executive, technician) jobs instead of skilled labour. For this situation to improve, we must build an economy that pays our skilled labourers decently.
Our reliance on foreign labour is not the best idealogy in these turbulent times. Instead, we have to re-structure our economy for a more sustainable future. While we have reserves to preserve jobs and sustain our economy, we cannot expect to return to what the economy was before once the pandemic is stable.
Instead of relying on Malaysians and other foreigners to do essential manual jobs for a salary that cannot sustain a Singaporean, policymakers should ensure sufficient wages for these jobs such that Singaporeans will find no shame in taking them up.