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Singapore Deputy Prime Minister: Digital, Green Literacies are the Future of Work

SINGAPORE - MAY 09, 2013: Workers at construction site in front of Singapore downtown in Singapore. Construction industry is expected to pull in some $30 billion this year

Speaking recently, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat, recognises that almost every other profession will eventually have some shades of “green” as green literacy, like digital literacy, could become a necessary skill for future occupations.

“In the past decade, the digital wave came upon us in a big way. The digital economy is now a key engine of growth,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. “We must keep an eye on the next wave of skills. We must not only equip people to meet present labour market demands but also prepare them for the future.”

He added that several digital technology companies have sprung up, resulting in the creation of numerous good employment and occupations, some of which were previously unknown. Many jobs now require basic digital skills and many hawkers and small businesses have gone digital.

There are more waves on the way, according to the Deputy Prime Minister. The green wave is one such developing trend and sustainability is an emerging growth engine that is gaining traction, but much more work remains to be done before the government can achieve their net-zero goals.

In the future years, green talents will continue to be defined and developed, and it may take some time for a larger choice of training paths and appropriate salary premiums to emerge. Thus, more businesses are actively greening their processes and investing in sustainable technologies. Green-collar jobs are growing in popularity. Some are in more established industries like sustainable finance and solar management. Some are in new fields like hydrogen and tidewater architecture.

The green wave has immense promise. As the green economy evolves, attempts to acquire green skills will be iterative. However, by learning from how the global workforce responded to the digital wave, workers may be able to better adapt to the green wave and future waves.

Moreover, every stakeholder must work together to achieve better livelihoods, a more vibrant economy, and a more sustainable environment. Companies, workers, and governments all have a stake in each other’s success. Businesses that succeed create better jobs for their employees, while companies can flourish with the help of skilled and motivated employees.

Singapore’s collaborative tri-partism model is a significant enabler of economic agility and development. Unions take a progressive approach, defending workers’ rights while simultaneously engaging with businesses to help them transform and their employees upskill. The government invests heavily in education, giving the children and youth a strong foundation and a thirst for knowledge, and providing workers with lifelong learning opportunities through SkillsFuture.

In a tight labour market, the government’s ability to upskill and reskill people will determine the rate of growth. Over the last decade, they have set the foundation for their workforce, creating several avenues for advancement, and expanding training options in every industry and occupation.

Singapore made a concerted effort to better protect vulnerable workers and focused on developing mature workers who have many more years to offer. By learning from the past and from one another, the government, soon, could prepare the country’s workforce for the new skills waves.

Digitalisation is exploding beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. People and businesses shifted to the internet, creating new opportunities while disrupting old ones. Businesses are pivoting to grab new growth, and individuals are being equipped to function in a more digital world. With the digital economy, the prospects for businesses to expand and employees to earn a better life are both feasible.

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