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See Technological Disruption as an Enabler, Not Job Threat

May 14, 2018

With evolving business landscape and requirements, more and more organisations are embracing digital transformation and investing in new technology. Along with the shift, however, there is a discussion about how technological disruption will impact the workplace and bring changes to the company culture.

Commenting on this issue, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that rather than seeing technological disruption as a threat to jobs, people need to think about how this technology advancement can enable them to do and achieve more than would otherwise be possible.

Mr Heng said, “Some people may say, ‘Oh no, we are going to be disrupted, we are going to be displaced, and we humans are going to be out of a job.’ But I really think that that is quite a negative way of thinking about it. Instead, it is helpful to consider the difference between jobs and tasks.”

Speaking at the the opening of PwC Singapore’s new office at Marina One East Tower on Friday (May 11), he said that there are different kinds of jobs with different tasks. While some tasks can be assigned to machine-learning robots, there remains some types of jobs that only humans can do it. Humans are still highly-needed to get done tasks that involve judgment, creativity and human interactions, Straits Times reports.

“I think the future of work is an exciting future, and we should be thinking hard about how technology and human capacity can be combined in a much more meaningful way,” added Mr Heng.

See: NTUC Raised $200 Million Fund to Subsidise Training for Workers

This includes how technology can enable a whole community to contribute ideas. As an example, he cited the redevelopment of Funan Mall, which is next to his office at The Treasury. He noted that in today’s age of e-commerce, the IT mall has transformed from a shopping mall to a lifestyle and experience mall at the same time.

Using the Japanese landscaping concept of shakkei that means borrowed scenery, he quipped that The Treasury could ride on the new Funan to advertise itself as the best place to work in the public service.

“We can go watch a movie, we can go watch a concert, a play, you can shop, you can eat, you can do all the things.”

Mr Heng emphasised that the future economy will heavily rely on the future workplace. In the future, going to work will no longer just about having a desk and a computer, but also a space that emits creative energies for its workers.

He commended PwC on its ‘future workplace’, saying, “I thought that this is really exciting, and I hope that we can do a lot more of this.”

In his role as Finance Minister, Mr Heng raised the issue of what kind of society Singapore should build. The fundamental question is, “Do we care or do we fear?”

The choice, he said, is between a society where people are driven to contribute and help others do better, and one motivated by fear of enforcement. “I think it changes the nature of our society. We are a very young nation and I hope that we build that sense of care.”

Read also: Singapore Firms Ready to Embrace Flexible Work and Plan Organisation Redesign: Study

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