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Finance Minister addresses trends changing the global landscape at May Day Rally

Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat at the May Day Rally said “that we are facing a rapidly changing global landscape, which can reshape all aspects of our lives” – Technological advancements, globalisation and the changing profile of Singapore’s workforce.

What is learnt today may not be relevant for the future due to speed of tech advancements

He said that the speed of technological advancements such as automation and digitalisation will transform businesses and social models, create high quality jobs, and improve the lives of people. But they will also make many jobs and skills redundant – he emphasised that is learnt today may not be relevant for long.

He continued that support for globalisation is falling, especially in advanced economies. Many workers feel that they have been left behind, and free trade has not worked for them. We must make sure that the fruits of growth are felt by all, or society can fracture.

Singapore to become a workplace for all

The third trend he spoke of was the changing profile of our workforce. We have a range of workers – from low wage workers and self employed individuals to managers and professionals. If we are not careful, there will be a skills and digital divide. Those who are well-educated and digitally savvy can go on to build more skills and do even better. Those who start with less may risk falling behind. Our workforce in Singapore is also ageing. People are living longer, which is good. But we will need to make it possible for all workers to stay active in the workforce for as long as they are willing and able.

In order to keep up with these global trends the Minister said that they must be an active agent in the transformation of our economy; second, prepare our workforce for jobs of the future through lifelong learning; and third, pursue inclusive growth

He also said that to build better lives for workers, Singapore will have to transform economy. Since 2016, we have launched 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), covering about 80% of Singapore’s economy.The ITMs set out clear strategies to drive innovation, promote internationalisation, raise productivity and the skills of our workers in each industry.

The second strategy is preparing workers for jobs of the future, through lifelong learning. NTUC recognises there will be new industries and new jobs in the future. So it is embarking on preparing the workforce for these jobs.

We must make sure that technological advancements help workers do their jobs better – not replace them said Mr Heng Swee Keat


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