SINGAPORE: Since they were announced in last year’s Budget, six of 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) have been rolled out to help companies drive innovation and productivity in a rapidly-changing economic climate.
In its report that lays out a blueprint for Singapore's economic development, the 30-member Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) highlighted that such industry-specific maps are the way to go in giving companies and their workers the best chance to succeed.
The CFE recommended that the early learning points from the first batch of ITMs be used to strengthen subsequent maps that will be implemented. Together, the 23 industries with ITMs make up 80 per cent of Singapore’s economy and include the precision engineering, aerospace, healthcare and retail industries.
The committee further recommended that such maps be tailored for each industry, as some may need to grow revenues while others may need to reduce costs. It said the idea is to ensure each map is focused on where the “potential can be best realised in each case”.
The report said that each ITM should be coordinated by a single Government agency, which will identify how that particular industry is affected by changes in technology and the global economy. It also recommended the ITMs be the platform to implement CFE strategies coherently, in a way that addresses the needs of different industries.
MAPS CAN BENEFIT COMPANIES IN MANY WAYS
The report said that ITMs will also help industries with growth prospects seize global opportunities, by helping them upgrade their capabilities. For example, it identified the logistics industry as one with potential in the region. It said the logistics map can help companies leverage rapidly-improving technologies to adopt best supply-chain practices.
For industries facing challenges in restructuring, such as those such which are domestically-focused and require a large pool of low-skilled workers, the specifically-tailored ITM would encourage productivity growth through the use of technology and innovative business strategies. The report identified the retail industry as an example.
Even as the maps are specifically structured to each industry, the report also recommended that they exploit synergies across industries. It said the benefits have been demonstrated in the six ITMs that have already been rolled out.
For example, it said staff in the food services and hospitality sectors would need similar skills. Hence there is scope to support the provision of skilled manpower to both industries even though they are on separate maps.
As a result, the CFE advocated taking a cluster approach, with six broad groups of industries identified, such as manufacturing, lifestyle and modern services.
File photo: A worker checking an aircraft component at an aerospace industry manufacturing plant in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)
While the private sector and unions will be involved in the ITMs, the Government will need to perform the role of facilitator and enabler. For example, it can create a regulatory environment that is conducive for innovative business models or set national standards to promote technology adoption.
CREATING STRONGER PARTNERSHIPS
Another point the report highlighted was the need to work together to exploit future opportunities and overcome challenges.
"Our path ahead is uncharted. Unpredictable economic, technological and geopolitical changes are affecting life and business in every country, and will require each of us to rediscover our place in and value to the world," the CFE report said.
For one, it said trade associations and chambers (TACs) will have a bigger role to play in helping enterprises scale up and make headway in overseas markets.
The report also said unions must continue to do their part in helping workers prepare for jobs of the future, by working with the Government, promoting SkillsFuture initiatives and paying special attention to the plight of Singaporean workers who may be more vulnerable in a rapidly-changing economy.
Secondly, the report said the Government needs to design a regulatory environment that supports innovation and risk-taking. This means creating more safe spaces for enterprises to try out new products and innovations in the real world, while managing associated risks.
The report also acknowledged that in an environment of changing global tax rules and an increase in domestic expenditure as the population ages, Singapore's tax system will have to be reviewed. The report therefore recommended that the Government ensure that Singapore's tax system remains progressive and fair, while sustaining innovation and economic growth.