28 July 2011


28 July 2011

Employers often highlight that a key strength of Singapore is the availability of a skilled workforce. Last Saturday, I chatted with trainees at the annual Creative Industries Fair, and was impressed with their passion to equip themselves with skills to realise their dreams of becoming animation designers and graphic artists. I have no doubt that they will make a difference to their organisations and Singapore in time to come.

This set me thinking: Even as we grapple with the here and now, we need to look ahead. How are we gearing up for the challenges of say 2020 and beyond? Will we have the right skills for tomorrow?

We sometimes miss evolving trends e.g. urbanisation, sustainability of resources like oil and water, ageing population etc. These forces of change coupled with accelerating technological advancements and shortening business cycles, will impact the way we work.

Equipping our workforce with the right skills is critical. Even during the last downturn, we continued to encourage companies to invest in skills through initiatives such as the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR). We also expanded our national Continuing Education and Training infrastructure and suite of programmes under the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) system. These efforts have strengthened our local skills base and prepared us for the eventual economic upturn.

The recession is over, but our challenge is not. We must press on. There is no better time than today to continue building a strong foundation. MOM has engaged various private and public sector leaders on their take of critical skills for 2020 and beyond. With this knowledge, we can identify and address key skill gaps, and work with relevant agencies to formulate appropriate strategies and policy initiatives. Here are some insights gathered (in no order of precedence):

Cross-functional skills
  1. Communication and networking skills
  2. Design-thinking and/or systems-thinking
  3. Understand global markets, especially Asia
  4. Gather, evaluate and use information and data from different domains ethically
  5. Identify, assess and prioritise risks
  6. Large-scale systems integration
  7. Corporate leadership skills coupled with project/people management skills
  8. Manage diverse culturally diverse/multi-disciplinary teams
  9. Social media skills
Vertical skills
     10.  Cross-disciplinary expertise
           (especially science and technology disciplines)
     11.  Legal expertise in the areas of intellectual property,
           dispute resolution and international law
     12.  Technical/engineering/scientific know-hows 
     13.  Green practices and sustainable development 
     14.  Integrated health care, mental health and specialised
           healthcare fields

What do you think? Are these the skills we should equip ourselves with for the future? Do share your thoughts by taking our poll on our MOM Facebook page. Your views count in helping us to build a future-skills ready workforce for 2020 and beyond. 

Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin 
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