S'pore needs to build new growth engines to remain competitive and continue investing in its people: Gan Kim Yong

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said there is a need to identify new opportunities for Singapore to remain competitive. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - New engines of growth are needed to strengthen Singapore's economic resilience, even as it continues to invest in its people so the workforce remains relevant.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said there is a need to identify new opportunities for Singapore to remain competitive amid headwinds in the global economy.

As it does so, the Government will also continue to invest in the training and upgrading of its people, to ensure that the Singapore workforce remains relevant and competitive amidst rapid technological changes and disruptions.

"As businesses innovate, restructure and renew their business models, Singaporeans must also play our part," said Mr Gan on Friday.

"We must continue to deepen our skills and widen our skill sets, remain nimble, and stand ready to seize the opportunities that are being created."

The minister, who was speaking at the 14th annual Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Economic Dialogue held at Singapore Management University, said workers will also have to take ownership for their own training and upgrading.

This includes embracing lifelong learning and training, a move that can be achieved with the support of businesses.

"It is a necessary journey to keep the workers relevant to the new economy that is emerging," he said.

At the event, Mr Gan discussed with students from local universities the key economic issues Singapore is facing.

He outlined the ongoing challenges of inflation, the slowing global economy and pressures on global trade, the importance of upholding a rules-based international trade system, as well as how the Republic is dealing with them.

He said efforts to transform the economy are underway, pointing to the strategies outlined in the Singapore Economy 2030 plan.

Mr Gan had unveiled the vision in March this year, which is driven by strategies across four key pillars of the Singapore economy - manufacturing, trade, enterprises and services.

On Friday, Mr Gan presented the Economist Service Scholarship to five recipients and the MTI Economist Service Undergraduate Awards to some of the top economics students in local universities.

(From left) Economist Service Scholarship Award 2022 recipients Jemma Cheah Li Wen, Cheong Shao Hong Justin, Lee Wei Kang, Lien Cai Hui and Jonathan Loke Chieh Hahn pose for a photograph with Mr Gan (third from left). ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

He said it is crucial for Singapore to have capable economists in the public sector who can provide high-quality economic analysis to inform the formulation of public policies.

Public sector economists were critical in the development of support measures provided to businesses and workers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Gan said.

Ms Jemma Cheah, 19, received the Economist Service Scholarship.

She is reading philosophy, politics and economics at the National University of Singapore.

Speaking to the media after the event, she said the issues of the day may be different when she enters the workforce after her studies.

"What I wish to bring to the table is adaptability, the ability to seize opportunities as they arise even out of uncertainties," Ms Cheah said.

Mr Jonathan Loke, 22, who was awarded a mid-term Economist Service Scholarship, interned with MTI last year.

During his stint, the economics undergraduate from the University of Cambridge helped design interactive dashboards to study the productivity performance of sectors identified in Singapore's Industry Transformation Maps.

"I was able to see the kind of policy research that our public sector economists do, and I feel that the Economist Service is quite a meaningful place in order to contribute to the economy and the livelihoods of Singaporeans," Mr Loke said.

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