DPM Tharman urges Singaporeans to learn new skills and 'innovate' economy

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Singaporeans can help create an innovative economy by learning new skills to take on jobs created by technological advancements, on Oct 28, 2015. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday called on Singaporeans to help create an innovative economy, by learning new skills to take on new jobs created by technological advancements.

He also said it is crucial for major firms to be open to new models of leadership and organisations, and for Singapore to maintain a social culture that tolerates and encourages intellectual and social diversity.

Speaking at a gala dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, said Singapore needs to earn its place in the world not by reducing costs, but by innovating and bringing new ideas to the market.

Reiterating what Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said earlier on Wednesday, Mr Tharman said Singapore needs to move from a value-adding economy to a value-creating one.

Mr Tharman said: "It can't just be a few individuals or firms... We have to be an innovative society.

"Never forget that innovation... requires deep skills," he said. "Innovation doesn't just work with business plans."

He added that in order for a society to innovate, it needs networks of people with deep skills in various areas, such as data analytics or digital marketing.

Wednesday's dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel marked the end of the business school's year-long celebrations for its golden jubilee.

About 500 people attended the dinner, including prominent alumni such as United Overseas Bank chairman Hsieh Fu Hua and former group president and chief executive of GuocoLand Chia Boon Kuah.

Other anniversary events include a charity concert, a charity run, and a charity golf event.

These events have raised more than $1 million, which will go helping financially needy students at the business school.

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