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A Singapore digital economy requires digitally-empowered businesses, digitally-skilled workers, and digitally-connected citizens

“Every enterprise, regardless of its size or stage of development, can use technology to innovate and grow. Every worker, regardless of industry or education level, can use technology to be more effective and productive; and Every citizen, regardless of age or background, can use technology confidently and enrich their lives.” said Mr Iswaran, Minister of Communications and Information at the Committee of Supply Debate on 4 March 2019.

Every Business Digitally-empowered

The SMEs Go Digital programme has helped 4,000 SMEs , it provides access to step-by-step guides to go digital, proven digital solutions,consultancy and project management services..

The Minister said they have been adapting the SMEs Go Digital programme to the changing needs of business. For example, working with banks and telco partners to launch the “Start Digital Pack” in January this year, so that digital solutions can be adopted by companies from the moment they are established. This way, businesses benefit from the very beginning, and can build on these digital foundations as they scale.

The nationwide e-invoicing network is one such initiative which IMDA launched in January this year. Invoicing is a key business function but manual processing can be tedious and error-prone. With e-invoicing, businesses can streamline processes, increase accuracy and improve cash flow. The Government, on its part, is fully committed to this initiative and will prepare our system to receive e-invoices by this year.

Another example of a system-level initiative is TradeTrust to streamline and digitalise  trade processes. A common challenge in the trade and logistics sectors is the inefficiency of manual cross-border trade processes. TradeTrust is an initiative to develop a set of standards to help businesses securely exchange digital trade documents.

Every Worker Digitally-skilled

“The digitalisation of businesses can succeed only if our workers too are equipped to effectively use digital technology. It is a challenge both of changing mindsets and developing the will to make the change happen” said Mr Iswaran

He then spoke about the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme launched two years ago to meet the growing demand for digitally-skilled professionals. Since then, over 61,000 training places have been taken up or committed, which accounts for about a third, slightly more of our total ICT workforce. These courses provide opportunities for non-ICT workers to switch into a tech career, or for current ICT workers to take on deeper tech roles.

As every worker has different digital training needs, the government will roll out the Digital Learning Guide. It will enable employers to plan for their workers’ digital training needs using a step-by-step guide.

Every Citizen Digitally-Connected

The government believes every Singaporean can be a digitally connected and engaged citizen. The minister said that “building digital readiness is a national effort, involving the Government, businesses, communities, and individuals.”

He spoke of  the Digital Participation Pledge which allows organisations to commit to one or more actionable items that help Singaporeans acquire skills and adopt technology. He added that more than 270 organisations have already pledged to do their part.

“I have spoken at length on our broad range of efforts to help our enterprises and people benefit from the opportunities presented by the digital economy. This is not an easy task nor is it the sole responsibility of Government. Indeed, ultimately, every business, every worker and every citizen has to step up, overcome the challenges, and take ownership of their learning and digital transformation.” concluded Mr Iswaran

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