[SINGAPORE] Singapore's government hopes there won't be any deterioration in unemployment next year as the job market keeps pace with 2016 levels, said Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education and Second Minister of Defence.
With the unemployment rate for residents currently about 3 per cent, and industries including healthcare, precision engineering and aerospace performing well and still hiring, Singapore's employment market was "not bad at all", Mr Ong said in an interview on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.
"Next year we hope there's an uptick in several sectors and so we hope we can maintain unemployment the way it is," he said. "But more importantly is long-term unemployment. We have always kept it low and we keep it low by ensuring workers keep on re-skilling."
Singapore's export-driven economy is under pressure amid a slowdown in global trade and lower energy prices that's hurt the oil and gas services industry and caused thousands of job losses. The economy expanded 2 per cent last year, the slowest pace since 2009, and the government forecasts even lower growth this year of 1 percent to 1.5 per cent.
Mr Ong joined the cabinet last year, and was made a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore in August. He was previously a director of group strategy at Keppel Corp.
Singapore, which has expressed concern about the growing backlash against globalisation, is watching the trade situation very closely, Mr Ong said.