Speaking at the Committee of Supply Debate on March 6, Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, highlighted the need for Singapore to build on its strong digital capabilities, such that the country is prepared for a digital future.
He said, “Like it or not, the digital economy is here to stay. Companies, citizens, and even the Government will have to make this transition. For businesses, the way markets are organised, the rise of the sharing and gig economy, and the global nature of competition on the Internet means that companies must stay agile in order to adapt to the changing business environment.”
“At the same time, companies will have to accumulate and develop the expertise needed to manage and secure inter-connected business systems, and to extract insights from the massive amounts of data that they are gathering.”
Individuals will also need new skills to thrive in the digital economy. “Whether you are a professional harnessing technology to transform your business, a hobbyist learning coding in your free time, a content creator figuring out how to engage your audiences online, or a casual user navigating the rich universe of online media, we all need to know more about what going digital really means.”
Further Dr. Ibrahim announced plans by IMDA to help Singaporeans gain new skills in Infocomm and media technologies through the TechSkills Accelerator programme. This programme will support media freelancers, and help businesses transform their operations and processes through digitalisation.
At the same time, Ministry also intends to grow the cybersecurity profession, such as to help companies protect and secure their valuable data. “Change is never easy, but we can minimise the dislocation we experience by understanding and preparing for it as early as we can,” Dr. Ibrahim said during the debate.
One of the ways for Singapore to achieve this growth is by strengthening partnership between the Government and businesses. Businesses on one hand are required to be proactive in maximising the potential of ICM technologies to deliver new services and products, even while exploring emerging markets.
See: MPs Suggest Slew of Measures for Singaporeans to Cope with the Digital Transition and Find Jobs
He emphasised the need for highly connected and cutting-edge companies, to be prepared to grapple with “the innovator’s dilemma” head on, in order to thrive in a digital economy.
The Government also needs to be highly connected, and at the cutting edge of technology adoption in how it delivers public services. Since, the expectations of citizens have increased in the recent times, this makes it incumbent on the Government to reach out to all Singaporeans and build trust in new ways, by leveraging technology.
GovTech will lead the way by creating more government digital services that will help make life easier for Singaporean citizens on the go, and it will keep the citizen – young, old, technology-savvy or not – at the centre of the user experience. This means not only having the hardware and software in place, but also the heart ware: officers at our Citizen Connect Centres and libraries will serve as ambassadors and guides to help those less tech-savvy users, discover and maximise the benefits of transacting with the government digitally.
As a part of the strategy to deepen capabilities within the government sector, there will be more emphasis on driving digital transformation and technology adoption in a more integrated manner, with GovTech at the centre of these efforts. They will work in concert with 10,000 digital-ready officers across the public sector.
MCI along with its agencies, IMDA and GovTech will be at the centre of the change to help Singaporeans cope with the digital transformation smoothly and benefit from technology, that will bring the citizens together rather than driving them apart.
He urged the Government, businesses, citizens, workers, and civil society to join forces and shape the digital Singapore they want. Be it robotics, artificial intelligence or other new assistive technologies, the vision of a Smart Nation can only be realised when you ensure to harness technology that will improve the lives of many.
Dr. Ibrahim concluded expressing hopes, “Only when we come together, can we realise the benefits of a truly digital economy, a truly digital society, and a truly digital Government, without leaving anyone behind.”
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