‘Little India’: Diverging Destinies in Heritage Spaces , pp. 4 of 10

Singapore: Reset or Repair?

The White Paper, while recognising that too many foreign workers may depress wages, as well as weakening national identity and sense of belonging, holds firm to the notion of a complementary workforce of Singaporeans and foreigners. Citizens will be increasingly represented in Professional, Managerial, Executive and Technical (PMET) jobs while, as noted by White Paper Executive Summary,

Foreign workers help to create the right balance of skilled and less-skilled workers in the overall workforce. As Singaporeans upgrade themselves into higher-skilled jobs, more of the lower-skilled jobs will have to be done by foreigners.

This view is challenged by Low and Vadaketh (2014) who argue for economic restructuring to promote higher productivity and thus rising wages in those sectors of the economy which rely heavily on lower-skilled workers. Over time Singaporeans would increasingly find careers in construction work, in the food and beverage industries and in domestic service, as they do in western economies (2014, p. 36). Social adjustment will take place gradually but as citizens are increasingly found in what were previously regarded as “low status” jobs the stigma attached to these occupations, and hence those foreign workers still employed in them, will lessen. Some things will change, maids will become increasingly expensive for middle class families, but professional cleaning services will be on hand. Singaporeans may start to wash their own cars.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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