G-20: Preparing workforce for the future is vital to inclusive growth, says PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a working session on the global economy and growth strategies at the G-20 Leaders' Summit on Sunday.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at a working session on the global economy and growth strategies at the G-20 Leaders' Summit on Sunday. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

ANTALYA (Turkey) - Preparing workers for the future is vital to achieving inclusive growth, even as the global economy faces short-term risks such as a slowdown in growth, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday.

Training, educating and keeping workers employable will help to prevent issues such as skills mismatch or unemployment from developing in the workforce for both youth and mature workers, he added.

"We need a deliberate strategy to drive skills, innovation and productivity, which have to advance in tandem," he said at the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders' Summit on Sunday. He was speaking at a working session on global economy, growth strategies, employment and investment strategies.

He told world leaders about Singapore's SkillsFuture initiative that promotes life-long learning and upgrading. All Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive $500 worth of SkillsFuture Credit from Jan 1 next year, and can use it for a range of about 10,000 courses.

"It is an effort that involves the Government, involves employers and involves workers - the three tripartite partners in our labour management relations and economic development," he said.

The initiative will take years to bear fruit, Mr Lee said. But the goal is to achieve a mindset shift - one where employers and society will value persons for their skills and contributions so that everyone will make self-improvement and upgrading a way of life.

Meanwhile, the G-20 Skills Strategy - a 17-point document that was adopted during a meeting for G-20 labour and employment ministers in September - is "critical and timely", he said.

The document had, among other things, pledged to provide support to job-seekers who are at risk of long-term unemployment to take part in training.

It also encouraged firms to increase demand for skilled workers, and for governments to systematically anticipate, assess, and respond to changing skill needs.

Mr Lee said Singapore looks forward to working together with the G-20 on upgrading skills, and to seeing results of the bloc's Skills Strategy.

waltsim@sph.com.sg