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Manufacturing Is Becoming A White-Collar Profession in Singapore


GlobalFoundries' production facility

GlobalFoundries' production facility in Singapore requires high-skill workers.

Credit: Ore Huiying / The Wall Street Journal

Manufacturing has made a comeback in Singapore, partly by automating away many jobs. The factory floor at GlobalFoundries Inc.'s Fab 7 is filled with robotic arms and other machines making chips. Few of its 350-odd manufacturing steps require humans.

The pandemic made automation a greater priority for businesses world-wide, which learned that fewer floor workers made it easier to maintain production during lockdowns.

Manufacturing is becoming a white-collar profession in Singapore. The country's manufacturing labor force has declined by almost 18% between 2014 and 2021. But the share of manufacturing jobs held by resident workers classified as high-skill — professionals, managers, executives, and technicians — has risen by 8 percentage points to 74% last year.

The manufacturing value added for each worker — a measure of productivity — doubled between 2014 and 2021, to around $230,000, thanks in part to automation, said Damian Chan of the government's Economic Development Board.

From The Wall Street Journal
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