Young residents focus on future trends, jobs at dialogue

Senior Minister of State Desmond Lim and DPM Tharman listening to a question posed during the dialogue session.
Senior Minister of State Desmond Lim and DPM Tharman listening to a question posed during the dialogue session. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Services like Uber and Airbnb first emerged abroad about eight years ago but Singapore's approach towards them has been reactive, said a participant at a dialogue yesterday.

"We started discussing them only when they came to Singapore," said public servant Bernard Sim, 27, who was worried about workers being displaced by these new trends.

At the same time, he is concerned that calls for students to master certain disciplines such as IT and digital skills may result in an oversupply a few years down the road.

Can Singapore be more proactive in identifying future trends to ensure that these skills do not become obsolete, as well as in helping those displaced by technology, he asked.

He was one of several participants at a dialogue with their MPs for young residents in Jurong GRC, Yuhua and Bukit Batok yesterday.

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam said the Government is already predicting future trends, but individuals should also have the attitude and aptitude to want to learn new skills throughout their lives.

Fellow Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said disruptive technologies create new jobs in other areas, and such skills training will help people take on jobs in these sectors.

Senior Minister of State Desmond Lee, also a Jurong GRC MP, said the SkillsFuture movement is about shifting from pre-employment education to lifelong learning, and this "will give us an edge over other cities".

A participant was concerned that job seekers might be over-trained, citing friends who did postgraduate studies but found during their job search that an advanced degree was not a must.

Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng said job applicants need to know how best to position themselves.

A person with a post-doctoral degree in physics and mathematics may look like an academic, but he may also be suited for a job in finance, which needs people who can study a topic in depth and pull complex data sets together, he said.

"There is no waste in education - it always prepares you for the next step in your journey," Dr Tan said.

"But the paper qualification cannot be the last step in this journey."

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Young residents focus on future trends, jobs at dialogue'. Print Edition | Subscribe