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Opening Address by MOS Gan Siow Huang at the Launch of the Skills Demand for the Future Economy Report

Published Date: 17 November 2023 09:30 AM

News Speeches

1. Today, we have close to 200 training providers, enterprises, trade associations and partners working together to help strengthen Singapore's landscape for skills training and preparing our people for the future.

2. This is a report that SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) introduced two years ago. Prior to that, there was a series of Skills Framework. It's been a journey of discovery and working with our partners to develop products that are suitable for people today, both individuals as well as enterprises. We are doing this to look at what skills are in demand today, as well as tomorrow. It's not an easy venture and I would like to congratulate SSG and its partners for coming this far.

Building an Agile and Resilient Workforce

3. The insights from this report continues its focus on these three growth areas - Care, Digital and Green economies. These are very important for Singapore and I'll tell you why.

  1. Our population is ageing and by 2026, we would be a super-aged society.
  2. And of course, amidst greater technological disruptions, our industry is ramping up digitalisation and the adoption of AI and robotics to achieve greater productivity and growth.
  3. Our economy is also greening, you would have heard of the Singapore Green Plan, and we aim to be a net zero emissions country by 2050. Not easy for a small city with not much land, agriculture, or natural resources.

4. Each of these transitions that we are making present both opportunities and challenges.

  1. We know that technology can be both a boon and a bane. Technology can help overcome our local manpower constraints with an ageing workforce but also has the potential to disrupt jobs and livelihoods unless we continuously upskill and reskill ourselves and our workers.
  2. Likewise, sustainability can be Singapore's new way of being a competitive economy, but decarbonisation will also require very significant transformation to our economy, both deep and broad. To achieve that, companies will need to build new capabilities and we must equip our workforce with green skills.

5. As we approach these transitions, a key question to be tackled is: how can individuals, enterprises, training providers and the Government work together to build an agile and resilient workforce?

6. In a rapidly changing skills landscape, SSG's skills analysis and insights provide a key part of that answer. It's like a jigsaw puzzle and this skills insight report is one of the pieces of this puzzle. The insights will enable individuals and enterprises to identify their skills gaps and make better, more informed investments in skills. This is necessary because you want to put your resources, both time and money, to good use. SSG and other sector agencies are also working with industry leaders and training providers to develop the necessary skills and training programmes.

7. Let me share how I believe individuals, employers and training providers can use SSG's latest report.

Agency of Individuals

8. First, every individual will have to take charge of their own career and invest in building their career agility and resilience. Career health is something we are taking quite seriously. We take care of our own health so that we can live longer and more fulfilling lifestyles. Career health is necessary to invest in as well so that we can stay employable, have fulfilling careers and achieve our aspirations. We can empower individuals to make informed decisions but we cannot take a prescriptive approach here, given that there are diverse needs and backgrounds. As the pace of change progresses and accelerates, individuals have to take ownership in charting their skills journey towards their lifelong career goals.

9. A key finding from the report is that many of the skills we acquire over our work life remain evergreen. This finding is comforting and gives us confidence. As long as we continue to invest in upskilling and reskilling, we can be reasonably confident about our future prospects, without worrying too much about skills obsolescence amidst the more rapid changes.

10. Mid-career transitions will become more common, with individuals moving within the sector and also across sectors. This is because industries are moving very fast and they are changing individuals' aspirations. I would like to share the story of Mr Jumahat Bin Leman, who took charge of his skills development to seize new career opportunities.

  1. Formerly employed as a graphic communications manager, Jumahat developed an interest in therapy support after witnessing a family member going through therapy at the hospital.
  2. This year, at the age of 51, Jumahat decided to switch to a different career path, and he took up a role as a therapy assistant in a hospital.
  3. He completed a WSQ Higher Certificate in Healthcare (Therapy Support) at HMI Institute of Health Sciences, which is structured as a SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme (SCTP).
  4. He is now pursuing a successful career in therapy support. Well done.

11. SSG has also enhanced this year's report to address the needs of mid-career individuals like Jumahat and many of us here in this room. I would encourage individuals to explore the resource kit within the report to find out about the training opportunities and courses available. The illustrative examples on possible skills transition pathways and personal stories of mid-career switchers are very empowering and inspiring.

Partnerships with Industry

12. Secondly, this report serves to support companies in their enterprise and job transformation. An example of a company who has benefitted from these job-skills insights is Micron.

  1. As an Industry 4.0 and Sustainability Lighthouse, Micron has made substantial advancements in financial, operational, and sustainability aspects. The transformation extends to their factories, value chains, and business models.
  2. Micron shared with us that it has found the report by SSG useful. It recognises that other than deep technical skill sets, engineers today need to have Critical Core Skills like Critical Thinking, Trans-disciplinary Thinking1 , and effective Communication enable them to thrive at work.

13. Beyond supporting individuals and companies, this report is also an open call to our industry leaders and practitioners to partner SSG to enhance our shared understanding and vision of the evolving skills needs. To this end, SSG has appointed Skills Development Partners (SDPs) and are working with the unions, Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), and professional bodies to strengthen capabilities and efforts in skills development and recognition. This will help us to produce more targeted insights to benefit companies and individuals alike.

14. The Government is also exploring new partnerships to catalyse skills development in emerging areas. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and SSG, convened its first Green Skills Committee meeting2, with industry players as well as training providers to discuss the development of skills to meet the requirements of a sustainable, lower-carbon economy.

Skills Activation by Quality Training Providers

15. Lastly, but also very importantly, with clearer demand signals in the report, we also need training providers to respond by offering quality skills training programmes that can cater to a variety of learners. And this may often be taken for granted, but it is important that our training providers provide a good range of quality training to suit different types of learners in different sectors and different topics.

16. The Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are enhancing the accessibility, quality and industry relevance of their CET offerings in three growth economies.

  1. For example, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) offers a stackable series of Gerontology programmes, ranging from Graduate Certificate in Gerontology to Master of Gerontology. SUSS also offers a Minor in Applied Ageing Studies to its undergraduate students.
  2. Separately, to promote digital upskilling, IMDA has formed a consortium with several IHLs to scale up training programmes in AI and Data Analytics3. This includes partnering with technology suppliers, such as big-tech multinational corporations (MNCs) and start-ups, to co-deliver hands-on training for software products with industry adjuncts.
  3. The IHLs have also doubled their offerings of SSG-supported green-related courses from about 250 last year to close to 500 this year.

17. To support mid-career transition into sectors with good hiring opportunities, SSG has been working with training providers to ramp up the number of SkillsFuture Career Transition Programmes (SCTP). To date, there are about 180 SCTP courses across all sectors, addressing the Care, Digital and Green economies.

18. Training providers are also refreshing the SkillsFuture Series, in line with the report's finding. The SkillsFuture Series is a curated list of short, modular, industry-relevant training programmes, focussing on emerging and in-demand skills required by Industry 4.0 and the Care, Digital and Green sectors.


19. Finally I want to say that, SSG's Skills Demand for Future Economy report seeks to enable individuals' agency and support enterprise transformation to capitalise on emerging business and growth opportunities and to thrive amidst challenging environments locally and globally. With a common skills language and clearer demand signals, our training providers and educational institutions can respond quicker to changes and adapt their offerings to upskill and reskill our workforce at speed and at scale.

20. I would like to thank the industry partners once again and academic faculty who have contributed their knowledge to this latest edition of the report and would like to call upon everyone to work with us in sharpening future analysis for the collective benefit of Singapore and Singaporeans.

21. Thank you.

  1. Transdisciplinary thinking is to apply concepts from multiple disciplines, and synthesis different areas of knowledge and insights to guide decisions, foster cooperation and drive continuous improvement.

  2. The Green Skills Committee, led by MTI, was announced at COS 2023. It brings together industry leaders and training providers to drive Singapore's efforts in developing the skills and training programmes required for a green economy. MTI released a press release on 15 Nov 2023 on the GSC meeting.

  3. Announced by Min/MCI on 5 September 2023 by MCI at the Tech3Forum. With support from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), IMDA is working with five Training Partners to scale reskilling and upskilling efforts in AI and Analytics. The Training Partners are National University of Singapore (NUS), Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHub), Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and a consortium formed by Temasek Polytechnic-Republic Polytechnic-Generation Singapore (TP-RP-Gen).