'Agile ecosystem' needed to thrive in an age of disruption, says Josephine Teo

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (third from left) and NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Koh Poh Koon (fourth from left) at a luncheon to honour over 130 jobseekers who successfully found new jobs through the Adapt and Grow initiative.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (third from left) and NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Koh Poh Koon (fourth from left) at a luncheon to honour over 130 jobseekers who successfully found new jobs through the Adapt and Grow initiative.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Several years ago, IT professional Vincent See, 52, observed the rise of e-commerce worldwide.

His company was also restructuring to cut costs. So he decided to take the plunge, and venture into a new industry after nearly 30 years in the hospitality sector.

He obtained an Advanced Diploma in supply chain management, and landed a permanent job as a systems specialist at ST Logistics this year through a government work attachment programme.

To thrive in an age of disruption, Singapore needs to nurture "agile" workers like Mr See, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Saturday (May 12).

Such workers have quick and flexible mindsets in picking up new skills, and can move from old jobs to new ones that are created, she said.

They will form part of an "agile ecosystem" that is key for Singapore to thrive in an age of disruption, said Mrs Teo at a luncheon to honour over 130 jobseekers who successfully found new jobs through the Adapt and Grow initiative, which helps workers make mid-career switches.

She set out three challenges ahead - global disruptions to businesses that threaten jobs, the impact of an ageing population on growth and uncertainty on how to prepare for the future of work.

Aside from an agile workforce, businesses also have to transform by becoming more productive and innovative, she said. She urged them to capitalise on overseas opportunities and offer employees better careers.

The Government, in turn, must remain agile in responding to firms and workers' needs, she added.

She cited the new SkillsFuture initiative it will roll out for enterprises, to help employers put in place human resource systems, structures and processes to provide their employees with better training.

Asked how the Government intends to get buy-in from employees and firms to be a part of this "agile ecosystem", Mrs Teo highlighted the strong foundation of tripartism here.

"We are constantly in dialogue with one another, and unlike in many other countries, we are not in a bitter fight against one another," she added. "We know that this is a challenge that requires all of us to put in our best efforts."

Mrs Teo also gave an update on the Adapt and Grow initiative on Saturday - 25,000 people found new jobs via the scheme in 2017, a 20 per cent rise from 2016.

Also present at the event were Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Koh Poh Koon and labour MP Patrick Tay, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower.

Asked about her priorities as Manpower Minister, Mrs Teo replied that it will be to nurture the agile ecosystem she had outlined.

"The programmes that we've put in place are fundamentally sound, but you always have to be responsive," she said.

"We look at whether the programmes are making a difference. When we see that we have to make some adjustments, we do not hesitate to do so. And we ourselves have to be agile in that regard."