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Engineer Shortage Worries Asian Execs

The unmet demand for engineers and other skilled workers could slow growth in Asia-Pacific, especially Singapore.

SINGAPORE — A growing shortage of engineers and other skilled workers could stunt the growth engine in Asia-Pacific, especially in Singapore, according to executives at a panel discussion on Wednesday (September 28).

Singapore, one of the major hubs in Asia-Pacific, is a small city-state that already suffers from a lack of resources and labor. Singapore must rely on help from foreign investment and labor to remain competitive against the likes of India, China and other nations.

One panelist said there is a “leak” effect in Asia-Pacific — and Singapore — in which a growing number of engineers change professions and move to more lucrative fields like investment banking.

“Singapore is an incredibly good and straightforward place to do business,” said Andrew Smith, manufacturing director for Shell Eastern Petroleum, during the panel discussion at the Global Entrepolis Singapore conference.

“But set aside that, Singapore has some tough issues,” he said. “Singapore has to reach out to bigger markets. We already face a shortage of [skilled workers].”

Another problem is to find and keep qualified engineers. “The challenge is to get more people to stay in the profession,” he said. “The real worry in Singapore is like what’s happening in the U.S. and U.K.,” he said.

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