Cuts by MP Henry Kwek during Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Committee of Supply Debate 2020
Up-skilling, Re-skilling, Job Re-design
In the face of tectonic economic and technology shifts, up-skilling and re-skilling is paramount to good employment outcomes for Singaporeans.
One can argue that success in both of these are some of the hardest public policy that very governments have achieve.
Successful up-skilling is usually done by successful companies.
Because successful companies are the ones who have a clear vision for the future, and the skills needed to meet that future.
These usually also operate within a certain national culture, such as those found in Germany and Japan, where companies have a firm sense of responsibility to its long-term employment of their staff.
This culture is usually supported by manpower policy at the national level.
Up-skilling also requires complementary educational institutes and capability for both full-time and part-time up-skilling.
If upskilling is difficult, re-skilling could be even more challenging.
In fact, one would be stretched to think about more than handful of countries that has systematically re-skilled people who are structurally unemployed.
Re-skilling workers to do different jobs, is somewhat easier for large companies, because while they are learning new skills, they are working within the same company, with the same company culture.
For example, as DBS bank digitise, many of its front-line workers get re-trained to other positions.
However, it is not always the case.
Because not may companies have the scale like DBS.
Because in the interconnected world, international companies have the option of re-locating jobs outside Singapore, rather than re-skilling our workers.
Because in this age of technology disruption, not all industries has a strong awareness of a clear and compelling vision for the future.
Therefore, workers who are currently working within, or are trying to enter the industry, may not know what area to up-skill or re-skill on.
Can MTI share how the government can help workers remain employable and industry-relevant in the rapidly changing environment, especially mature and mid-career workers, many in their 40s and 50s?
For example, how can we up-skill more workers in industry-relevant competencies, such in the area of Design.
The mindset of our workers is also pivotal. They must understand that in this day and age, careers are non-linear, and they must up-skill and re-skill themselves at different time.
Nevertheless, companies play the crucial role.
Can MTI share how our government encourages more firms to embrace a mindset shift, to see workforce transformation as a critical complement to enterprise transformation.
Accordingly, how can the government support and incentivise more firms, especially SMEs, to invest in training and redesigning jobs for worker?
And how is the government publicising such information?
Watch the speech here
Watch the response here