In the era of economic disruption, workers are required to continuously upgrade their skills in facing the challenges and changes in the workforce. During the era of digital transformation, many workers are required to move into new industries or even lose their jobs.
PM Lee said that he was glad to see a lot of good work being done to address this issue and some results can already be seen. About 30,000 placements were made last year through Adapt and Grow programmes, a rise from 25,000 the year before. Run by WSG, under this initiative Singaporeans can learn new skills, get guidance in job searches, adapt adapt to new jobs and grow in their careers as the economy undergoes restructuring.
According to PM Lee, although many people might be worried about the changes brought about by economic transformation, the government is always ready to help. While the changes are unavoidable, he said that workers should see the way forward as a chance to be more productive, do better jobs and earn better pay. He added that the economy is doing well and productivity has been high, which shows the economy is not just expanding, but is upgrading and improving.
Last year, the economy was growing 3.3 percent and 3.6 percent the year before. Growth in productivity, measured as real value-added per actual hour worked, came in at 4.5 percent in 2017. However, PM Lee noted that the gains are uneven, with the export-oriented sectors upgrading rapidly to stay competitive, while domestic services are slower, Straits Times reports.
The domestic sector needs attention because many of the companies are local enterprises, which employ the bulk of Singapore’s workers. To address this issue, PM Lee said that the government is set to create programmes to reach them and upgrade them and the workers in these companies. For example, the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme helps companies improve their productivity and profitability through applying technology and becoming less reliant on labour.
PM Lee said he was visiting Careers Connect because he wanted to see first-hand the work being done to help people transition into new jobs, and meet people affected by the transformation as well as those helping them through it.
When asked how Singapore is doing on its restructuring journey, he said a lot of progress has been made. “In eight years, our economy has grown, our productivity has gone up, our workers’ wages have gone up, we have kept our unemployment down, and our employment rates have gone up, for the old people particularly, for the women also.”
But the journey is not over, he said. “I don’t think we will ever be done. Ten years from now, I am sure we will still be talking about productivity growth and upgrading, but 10 years from now, if we do our work right, we will be in a stronger position than we are today.”