Is Singapore the Next to Follow the Robotic Revolution Trail?

August 16, 20165:54 pm431 views

Recent reports state, Dehumanised Smart Systems will soon take over more than 12 million jobs in Thailand over the next two decades. This will further lead to one-third of the 37 million positions in the workforce to be wiped out soon. Is Singapore the next to follow the robotic revolution trail?

With political disquiet about immigration growing in the recent years and restrictions laid by the Government on immigration of foreign workers, Singapore is experiencing a tight labour-crunch in industries that require talented, skilled and experienced manpower. Most of the country’s highly educated locals shun grueling work hours and unglamorous job roles.

Owing to these constraints, the country is now looking up to non-human solutions and displacing certain automated functions with robots to address the human resource challenge.

Citing an example, as reported by Channel News Asia, a tray-wielding robot roams the eatery at Chilli Padi Nonya Cafe, offering to collect plates from patrons in a childlike voice. Navigating its way through customers, it delivers the dirty dishes to the kitchen.

The Government will further spend over $450 million over the next three years under the National Robotics Programme to support the development and deployment of robotics in sector such as healthcare, construction, manufacturing and logistics. This should not only help companies’ cut labour costs with more automation but also create higher value-added jobs.

While service robots as waiters or cleaners can be found in hospitals and restaurants in Singapore, they are less ubiquitous as expected from the tech-oriented economy.

“Weak capital expenditure amid the global economic slowdown has made it difficult for a virtuous robot development cycle to rev up in Singapore.”

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat recently announced an automation support package to help companies and smaller firms to scale up their business. The Automation Support Package will provide support of over $400 million over the next three years.

This would involve grants of up to 50 percent of the project costs, capped at $1million, 100 percent investment allowance for automation equipment and access to loans to buy equipments under the Spring Singapore scheme by taking on 70 per cent of the risk from 50 per cent currently. For non-SMEs this will be capped at 50 percent.

Aaron Maniam – Director of Industry Division, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) shared his thoughts on Singapore Vision 2050 with Gov Insider to state, “If menial jobs can be done by automation, there is space for individuals to do more value-added work – and this changes the employment model for Singapore. A job is made out of many, many different tasks and roles, and robots don’t have skills like empathy, synthesis and the ability to appreciate complexity and draw links from common scenarios.”

Do these development plans in pipeline by the Singaporean government, signal the age of robotic change in the tech-hub of Asia? Do these indicate Singapore is embracing automation and robotics to follow the trail of other counterparts in Asia?

Keep a watch on this space to stay posted about the upcoming technology developments in Singapore and how is the country coping with human resource shortage.


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