Spur more public-private tie-ups amid tough times

It was exciting to hear Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outlining his vision for Singapore in his National Day Rally speech. However, I am concerned about major challenges that are looming on the horizon.

The global economy is projected to continue to slow down, and it has already taken a toll on our economy.

Meanwhile, productivity has not seen consequential improvements, and the cost of doing business has gone up.

To secure Singapore's place in the fourth industrial revolution, we need to expedite or even redesign our economic restructuring plan to help us generate better returns, and become more competitive, resilient and sustainable. And we need to continue to develop high-value-added industries and enterprises, open new markets and move up the value chain.

While it is heartening to know that the authorities have launched major initiatives to reskill and upskill our workers, they have to ensure that these workers enhance their prospects for employment and employability in not just their current companies, but also potentially in other companies and industries.

Just as importantly, the authorities will have to intensify their efforts to create more jobs as there will likely be a major loss of jobs due to automation and disruption of incumbent companies.

Also, they have to look into creating more enriching jobs to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers who are potentially more educated, sophisticated and demanding.

To respond to these challenges, we cannot just take a top-down approach.

We should encourage more partnerships between the public, private and people sectors, and encourage key stakeholders to connect, collaborate and co-create solutions for society.

Together, we can make Singapore a liveable and lovable place, and the best home for ourselves.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Spur more public-private tie-ups amid tough times'. Print Edition | Subscribe