Future Economy Council to grow, transform economy

The new Future Economy Council (FEC) will focus on growing and transforming Singapore's economy for the benefit of Singaporeans amid the significant changes taking place globally, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. This will be done at three levels, he noted.

One strategy is to grow an economy that is vibrant, open and connected to the world while the second is to strengthen local enterprises through industry-specific transformations to help them grow, innovate and scale up.

The third approach involves enabling Singaporeans to acquire and utilise deep skills so they can seize opportunities in the future economy.

"A small, open economy like Singapore must adapt to the significant structural shifts in the external environment," said Mr Heng, who was responding to a question in Parliament by MP Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) yesterday on the plans of the council and what it aims to achieve.

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"Industries and jobs are changing due to changes in technology, demand patterns and supply conditions. In particular, digital technology is likely to trigger changes in many industries. These changes will bring new opportunities and new challenges," Mr Heng said.

The FEC, a national council overseeing skills and innovation efforts, was announced in May and took over from the earlier Council of Skills, Innovation and Productivity.

Parliament heard that while strategies outlined by the Committee on the Future Economy have set the broad directions for Singapore's economy, the council itself will oversee the implementation of its recommendations.

The Building and Construction Authority brought together 400 industry stakeholders and identified 35 key technologies across seven clusters in the built environment for further research and development to unlock greater productivity gains.

It will also build on the work of the earlier Council of Skills, Innovation and Productivity by driving SkillsFuture initiatives and developing Industry Transformation Maps.

Mr Heng, who heads the FEC, added that its three-level approach will require close collaboration among the Government, industries, unions and individuals.

He pointed to an example of collaboration undertaken by the Built Environment FEC sub-committee to help the construction industry.

The Building and Construction Authority brought together 400 industry stakeholders and identified 35 key technologies across seven clusters in the built environment for further research and development (R&D) to unlock greater productivity gains.

This culminated in the Construction Productivity R&D Roadmap, which is being incorporated as part of the Industry Transformation Map for the construction sector.

"The structural changes that are happening in the global economy will require us to respond robustly. All parties will need to each do our best, and work in close partnership to respond to change," said Mr Heng.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Future Economy Council to grow, transform economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe