The Future of Work in Singapore

The Future of Work in Singapore

A huge wave hit the entire world and changed the way we work forever as COVID-19 swept across the globe. It impacted companies, employees and jobseekers with unprecedented challenges. Face to face interactions became a thing of the past. Companies had to quickly adapt to new technologies to shift their businesses fully online. It wasn’t an easy time for sure. But it also opened huge opportunities for those who knew how to ride the wave.  

The pandemic accelerated automation, digitalization, reskilling and upskilling. We can look to Singapore, one of the richest places in the world, as an example.  

Singapore is a high-income economy with a high standard of living. With a gross national income of US $54,920 per capita as of 2020, the city-state is a force to be reckoned with. The country boasts one of the world’s most business-friendly environments and is ranked among the most competitive economies.  
After its independence in 1965, the former British colony became a global manufacturing and financial center. Singapore rapidly developed from a low-income country to a high-income powerhouse with an average GDP growth rate of 7.7%. Experts call Singapore the 20th Century’s most successful development story and it’s very difficult to argue.  

Singapore is a small country with little land and no natural resources. Against all odds, they were able to grow into the powerful economy that they are today. 

Throughout the years, Singapore has experienced great success thanks to the pragmatic leadership of the late Lee Kuan Yew and his successors, an effective public bureaucracy, effective control of corruption, learning from other countries, and reliance on the best and brightest citizens through free education and generous compensation. 

The city-state of Singapore is no stranger to rising above any challenge and coming out on top. There are many things we can learn from them following the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Reopening its Economy 

After two months of lockdown in 2020, Singapore gradually reopened its economy but some jobs never returned. Events and hospitality steeply declined, posing a threat to Singapore as this was a huge contributor to the national economy. Moreover, international borders were forced closed – causing massive disruption to the open border dependent Singapore. The level of unemployment rose as the business landscape was forced to transform.  

Pre-pandemic, changes such as automation and virtual work were already on the rise in Singapore. COVID-19 further accelerated these trends and forced even more change in the workforce. Digitilaztion of the workplace, which was predicted to take years to implement, was rolled out in the matter of months. Experts predicted a future where there are fewer full-time jobs as companies shift to employing people on short-term contracts for specific tasks. Virtual rather than physical work would also become the norm. 

Reskilling for the Future 

Singapore was not spared from the effects of the global pandemic. However, remaining true to its values of strong leadership and high value placed on education and training for all its citizens, they were able to stay afloat. Their investment in education and competitive compensation is unmatched by any other country in the world. Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, this made a world of difference. 

“If you look at the history of Singapore, we have been looking at workforce reskilling since the day the nation was created,” said Gog Soon Joo, the Chief Skills Officer at SkillsFuture Singapore. 

Every Singaporean citizen enjoys free education from primary and secondary to tertiary. Even after finishing traditional school, Singaporeans over 25 years old can claim a $500 credit towards training programs. There are also countless subsidized courses for citizens seeking to pursue continuing education. These show that economic growth can be tied to everyone’s career success.  

Moving Forward 

To rise from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to look straight ahead without turning back. For Singapore, the future of work means to reskill for the future economy and allow people to pivot into new industries. Rebuilding the economy requires the cooperation of all stakeholders, from individuals to corporations and the government.  

We need to improve the new work environment overall to truly empower the workforce and see the economy recover. The new system needs to work for everybody.  

Riding the Wave of New Technology 

The new work landscape in Singapore rides along with the global technology changes that have swept the world. It embraces the migration to the cloud and maximizing a remote workforce. Singapore is investing in skilling, reskilling and upskilling their citizens to keep up with this rapidly growing trend.  

In order to succeed, all private and public institutions need to align with students’ needs. “Education needs to be ‘low-cost’ and ‘on-demand,” said Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg Inc. “All of the economies around the world are becoming tech-enabled. But that doesn’t mean everybody has to be an engineer. It just means everybody has to understand and utilize technology in whatever role that they happen to be playing.” 

Singapore Leads the Change 

The skyrocketed success of Singapore is thanks to many factors including its strategic location, friendly policies towards foreign investors and efficient and honest government. But it’s success in pivoting to the future after the global pandemic can be attributed to their investment in education, reskilling and upskilling every Singaporean worker. 

With the world settling into a new normal, employees need to upskill themselves to keep up. Singapore leads this change, as 62% of workers are willing to re-train if necessary. This is far ahead of their counterparts in neighboring countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indoesia where workers were mostly unwilling to go through re-training. This could be tied to the fact that Singapore workers perceive the risk of losing their jobs to automation.  

The future of work is changing rapidly before our very eyes. It may seem daunting at first but by emulating the right practices and insights from countries such as Singapore, we can move into a more successful future.  

ClinkIT Solutions can help you stay ahead of the change. Contact our team of experts for a free consultation on how to move your business into the future.  

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