Just like another Tim Cook’s announcement of Apple’s latest product, some feel that the Committee on the Future Economy’s (CFE’s) recommendations weren’t anything they didn’t already know.

But the CFE isn’t an exhaustive roadmap of the future, which many Singaporeans have unfortunately come to take for granted that the government will plan every step ahead.

The CFE functions more like a compass, indicating the strategic direction we should take as a nation to stay ahead and ensure we continue to have a future, in a future wrought in uncertainty.

Let’s look at the top three takeaways for Singaporeans, amongst the 7 strategies for our 5 futures.


1. The Government is not the only driver getting Singapore future-ready

In the CFE recommendations, multiple references were made to the role of employers, Trade Associations & Chambers (TACs), unions and people.

There is a lot of work to be done together, such as creating modular courses so Singaporeans can look forward to skills upgrading in modules which might fit better into their existing work schedules. And these modules could eventually be combined to achieve higher qualifications. Just like Power Rangers Megazord.

With better analytics of Jobs Bank data, this could provide working people with much needed real-time information to make informed decisions on the skills to take and the industries to gravitate to. No more mass flocking to Life Sciences because the government says so. Now you can back up such claims with data.

But no single organisation can work in silo. That’s why NTUC’s Future Jobs, Skills and Training unit is collating data from different sources to analyse and recommend targeted action plans with various industry partners to help future unemployed into future jobs.


2. Emphasis on connectivity to create good jobs for Singaporeans

In a world that’s increasingly becoming more protectionist, the CFE recommends the exact opposite: that we internationalise and press on for trade liberalisation, invest in our external connectivity and set up a Global Innovation Alliance, among others.

The big idea is not only to bring the world to Singapore, but to also take Singapore to the world.

For example, with the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, corporate leaders will have more exposure to overseas assignments and provide them with the best experience to manage inter-countries businesses.

New infrastructures (T5 and HSR) would also require manpower to manage and operate. Improved connectivity with KL could also bring about more business opportunities and tourist dollars, which means a boost to the hospitality sector, and hence, jobs for Singaporeans.

Imagine scaling up to connect on a global scale where your job in Singapore can serve not just local, but also global customers via digital connections, with the trusted Singapore brand and world-class infrastructure at your fingertips.


3. Change is your only option

The digital revolution has brought about a whole new lineup of jobs that didn’t exist a generation ago – from social media manager to content creator, which may or may not exist a generation later.

However, many SMEs are slow to adopt digitalisation. With a focus to encourage SMEs to adopt digital technologies, the push towards digital could possibly impact half of the working population in Singapore.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said that with new technology, we “are able to use digital connectivity or digital capabilities to transcend our geography.”

At the same time, an emphasis in data analytics and cybersecurity would be timely and provide our network administrators (which we are no longer competitive in) another opportunity to move into a value creation role, before competitors from other countries catch up in terms of skills as they increasingly get better access to internet and top notch online courses.

The questions Singapore should ask are:

  • How much money should we spend on grants to prop up businesses which aren’t competitive anymore?
  • Are we prepared to hasten the letting go of businesses and industries which are almost obsolete, so resources can be freed up for new businesses and industries?
  • How do we cultivate an enterprising mindset in Singaporean society where failure in action (part and parcel of innovation and growth) is better than a failure to act?
  • Should we harness our legendary kiasu-ism to extend to being a first mover in future industries, jobs and skills, instead of confining it solely to pursuing the 5Cs?

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