Singapore has undergone a radical transformation in the nature of part-time employment, catalyzed by exponential technological advancements. While part-time roles were traditionally concentrated in service and sales, the digital revolution has paved the way for a thriving gig economy and remote work culture enabling more flexibility and access to regional or even international part time jobs. This evolution has been empowered by advancements like high-speed internet, mobile connectivity, digital payments, and global work platforms that allow part timers to choose projects, set availability, and earn supplementary income with just a few clicks.
According to Ministry of Manpower statistics, in the early 2000s, part-time workers constituted around 10% of Singapore’s workforce, employed mostly in the service, sales, and clerical sectors. Back then, part-time work was dominated by traditional roles like retail assistants, waiters, data entry clerks, cashiers, and front desk executives.
Fast forward to today, and the gig economy has exploded onto the scene, with digital platforms like Grab, Gojek, Deliveroo and more connecting freelancers to income opportunities within clicks. Southeast Asia’s gig economy was valued at a staggering $13 billion in 2019, doubling in just a year. In Singapore alone, the e-commerce sector employs over 90,000 locals as delivery partners and ancillary staff.
A Historical Snapshot of Part-Time Work
In the early 2000s, part-time workers constituted around 10% of Singapore’s workforce, employed mostly in the service, sales, and clerical sectors according to Ministry of Manpower statistics. Back then, part-time work was dominated by traditional roles like retail assistants, waiters, data entry clerks, cashiers, and front desk executives.
The Tech Catalysts Powering Change
Fast forward to today, and the gig economy has exploded onto the scene, with digital platforms like Grab, Gojek, Deliveroo and more connecting freelancers to income opportunities within clicks. Southeast Asia’s gig economy was valued at a staggering $13 billion in 2019, doubling in just a year. In Singapore, the e-commerce sector alone employs over 90,000 locals as delivery partners and ancillary staff.
This transition has been enabled by advancements like high-speed internet, mobile connectivity, digital payments, and global work platforms. part timers now have unparalleled flexibility to choose projects, set availability, and earn supplementary income. The typical profile has shifted from salesperson to social media manager, designer, developer, consultant – roles that leverage technology.
Empowering Location Independence
85% of Singaporean businesses embraced remote part time jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, underpinned by technologies like video conferencing, cloud drives, and collaboration tools. This created opportunities for part timers to work outside traditional office settings. In a recent HSBC study, over 80% of Singaporeans expressed a desire to freelance or start an online business.
Dedicated job marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, and local alternatives have emerged to connect businesses with global talent. part timers are now able to access regional or even international job opportunities right from their laptops. Between 2018 to 2020, Upwork’s freelancers from Singapore earned over $46 million USD through the platform.
Upskilling for an Evolving Economy
The shift towards tech-enabled work has placed greater emphasis on continuous learning. In the first half of 2020, hours spent by Singaporeans on online learning platform Coursera increased 130% from the previous year. Sites like Udemy, Skillshare and Singapore’s own SkillsFuture are equipping workers with digital proficiency.
Companies are also recognizing the need to train part timers. For example, Grab provides unicorn training and financial support to help cab drivers transition to the Grab platform. By complementing technical know-how with soft skills like communication and empathy, part timers can thrive in customer-facing roles too.
The significant spike in hours spent on online learning platforms like Coursera in 2020 highlights how the shift towards tech-enabled part-time work has placed greater emphasis on continuous skills upgrading. As part timers take on more digital roles like social media manager, designer and developer, online learning has become crucial to equip them with the latest technical proficiencies. The over 130% jump from 2019 shows that both individuals and companies recognize the growing importance of online education in an evolving economy.
The Role of Government and Regulation
Singapore has passed progressive laws like the Employment Act 2020 to cover part-time and contract employees. The Retirement and Re-employment Act also helps older part timers stay economically active by requiring companies to offer re-employment up to age 67.
Tripartite guidelines promote fair, non-discriminatory hiring – a boon for seniors and caregivers seeking part-time work. Government agencies like the CPF Board have set up schemes to help part timers and freelancers secure housing, healthcare and retirement funds through contributions matching.
The role of associations like NTUC’s Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit (U FSE) in amplifying voices cannot be understated. Workgroups studying the future of work and representations by Precarious Workforce, Wake Up Singapore also help shape policy. More remains to be done to protect gig workers and shape futuristic policy.
But Singapore has laid the groundwork by hosting events like Labor Movement’s Future Jobs, Future Skills to bring stakeholders together. The government also supports innovation through funds like StartupSG Equity to catalyze local startups designing ethical tech-enabled business models.
The Economic Contribution
Part-time and gig workers are significant contributors to Singapore’s GDP. For example, Grab’s services added an estimated $5.2 billion to Southeast Asia in 2019. part timers also help to moderate wages and allow businesses to stay productive without taking on full-time costs.
As Singapore ages, tapping into its senior talent pool through flexible part-time arrangements will also become crucial for both employees and companies. Providing equitable work opportunities for caregivers, women returners, and the physically challenged boosts both GDP and social justice.
While concerns of precarious work and skills obsolescence exist, Singapore is poised to maximize the potential of technology to create meaningful part-time roles. With responsive policies, emphasis on empathy and ethics, and a culture of continuous learning, part-time work will evolve to empower rather than marginalize. Technology sets the stage, but humans hold the key to writing the next chapter of this story.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are wages for part timers in Singapore keeping pace with the economy?
While median hourly wages for part timers have risen over the past decade, the increases have lagged behind full-time employees and growth in GDP per capita. More needs to be done to ensure part timers have access to skills upgrading and are compensated fairly.
What laws exist to protect the rights of freelancers in Singapore?
The Employment Act, Retirement and Re-employment Act, and Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices cover basic rights like timely payment, workplace safety and non-discrimination for part timers and freelancers in Singapore. Associations like NTUC’s U FSE also provide support.
How are traditional businesses adapting to part timers increasingly using tech platforms?
From tapping digital tools to facilitate communication, to leveraging gig workers for peak periods, companies in retail, F&B and other sectors are finding ways to integrate tech to enhance part timer roles rather than replace them entirely. Training, job redesign and compassionate policies help with this change.
In conclusion, Singapore is poised to maximize the potential of technology to create meaningful and empowering part-time roles. With responsive policies, emphasis on empathy and ethics, and a culture of continuous learning, part-time work can evolve to become an inclusive economic force rather than marginalize workers.
Lisa Eclesworth is a notable and influential lifestyle writer. She is a mom of two and a successful homemaker. She loves to cook and create beautiful projects with her family. She writes informative and fun articles that her readers love and enjoy.