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Sustainable economic growth will transform the way Singaporeans work: Iswaran

The Second Minister for Trade and Industry said as the country embarks on its productivity drive, Singaporeans must be prepared to view changes as opportunities, rather than threats.

SINGAPORE: Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran has said that Singapore's push towards sustainable economic growth will transform the way Singaporeans work. He added that as the country embarks on its productivity drive, Singaporeans must be prepared to view changes as opportunities, rather than threats.

Mr Iswaran said this at his ministry's annual economic dialogue on Thursday (Aug 28). In his speech, he described technological progress and human capital improvements as the two main drivers of productivity growth.

BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY AT THE WORKPLACE

He cited two examples of how technology has brought about changes at the workplace. One of these is BMW's i Genius - a system that replaced the need for customer service officers - and the other is a robotic luggage handler used at a hotel in New York.

Mr Iswaran said some jobs may be lost to automation, but technological advancements will also bring new opportunities and create new and better jobs. For example, the Government is promoting new areas such as additive manufacturing, which will spur demand for engineers who can take on jobs involving component design and materials research.

SOFT SKILLS "EQUALLY IMPORTANT"

But hard skills aside, Mr Iswaran said employers are also increasingly looking for workers with soft skills such as work ethic, teamwork and creativity. He said: "So what do all these mean for us? First and foremost, we must remember that technological changes will cause the obsolescence of jobs, even as new opportunities are created. We must therefore strive to keep our knowledge and skills current through continual learning. Second, apart from upgrading technical skills, we must also focus on acquiring soft skills. A good blend of both skill sets will enable you to take on good jobs in many new and exciting industries."

He added that the third point is to seek out new experiences that take individuals out of their comfort zone, like an overseas posting for example.

Mr Iswaran said the Government is committed to the goal of raising productivity and helping Singaporeans achieve sustained improvements in living standards. However, workers, employers and education providers must come together to ensure that Singaporeans possess the right skills and that the industries remain competitive.

At the dialogue, Mr Iswaran met about 150 students to discuss the importance of sustainable economic growth and the implications for Singaporeans.