More growth, jobs from transformation of wholesale trade sector: NTUC deputy chief

Wholesale and retail trade made up a 14.2 per cent share of Singapore's gross domestic product in 2016.
Wholesale and retail trade made up a 14.2 per cent share of Singapore's gross domestic product in 2016.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The wholesale trade sector's upcoming overhaul will "make trade great again", a local labour deputy chief said in a blog post on Monday (Sept 4).

It was one of five industries singled out by the Government in July as the likeliest to be hit hard by disruptive technology.

But wholesale trade has also been picked for a jobs training boost, with 10,000 more positions slated to be added by 2020.

Besides supporting various training and placement programmes, the National Trades Union Congress has also sought input on labour market needs from the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union, said NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay.

Representatives from unionised wholesale trade companies indicated that skills in demand will include familiarity with business regulations, data analytics, e-commerce, pricing strategy, risk management and trade financing instruments, among others, he said.

"With growth and increased digitalisation, the wholesale trade sector shows great potential for jobs covering a diverse range of opportunities for working people from different disciplines and industries," wrote Mr Tay on NTUC blog LabourBeat.

Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran is set to announce plans to upgrade the sector, when the Wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map is launched on Sept 6.

In his post, Mr Tay, who is also NTUC's director of the future jobs, skills and training department, added: "The outlook of the sector is positive and I am excited about the future of our wholesale trade sector.

"With rising consumerism in Asia and given Singapore's robust trade ecosystem and strong infrastructure, we are in good stead to leverage on our strengths to meet this demand."

Still, digitalisation is necessary to enhance the Republic's global trade connectivity, said Mr Tay, who is also a member of the Wholesale Trade Industry Tripartite Committee.

Wholesale and retail trade made up a 14.2 per cent share of Singapore's gross domestic product in 2016.

Overall domestic wholesale trade saw a year-on-year increase of 7.3 per cent, adjusted for price changes, during the three months from April to June 2017.

Meanwhile, overall foreign wholesale trade rose by 1.5 per cent year on year in the same period, again adjusted for price changes.