Staying Attractive and Relevant
(Image: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore)
As Singapore is a small and open economy, we must keep championing and pushing for free trade and access to open markets.
To this end, we will continue to look for like-minded partners who also believe in the need for free trade whether in goods, services or even digital trade.
We are pushing for regional cooperation across multiple platforms, from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to the ASEAN Economic Community. These agreements will help to ensure that we continue to have access to overseas markets, a factor that is critical to Singapore’s survival.
Apart from building international linkages, we have been forging closer ties within the region. ASEAN remains an important market for us, given our strong ties with our neighbours and the rest of the ASEAN countries.
Upgrading our Workers’ Skills
(Image: SkillsFuture SG)
The rise of the digital economy has led to a surge in demand for skills such as software engineering, data science, and artificial intelligence. But due to a small population pool and time needed to train these professionals, there is currently a skills gap.
Singapore’s approach to the problem has not deviated from then-Finance Minister Goh Keng Swee’s philosophy back in the early days of industrialisation. We welcome foreign talent with the right skills that companies need.
This approach has helped bring in some of the best talent in technology to support the growing needs of both big tech companies and fast-growing startups here. In 2019, a report by the US-based Startup Genome said that Singapore ranked second for startup talent, just behind Toronto-Waterloo but ahead of Silicon Valley. This has been a key success factor in building Singapore’s reputation as a startup hub for Asia.
But the long-term solution remains grooming world-class local talent.
Apart from equipping students with technological skills, we also need to continue retraining and reskilling our adult workers for the new economy. One way we are doing this is through SkillsFuture, a national movement that aims to promote a culture of lifelong learning. This is especially important as the rapid pace of change means that getting one form of qualification or one set of skills is no longer enough.