SINGAPORE - Singaporeans are living much longer these days so it is crucial that the country helps people reach their fullest potential, stay nimble and keep learning, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (March 22).
Mr Heng told a dinner event: "We need to ... build relevant skills throughout our lives."
He said a recent book entitled "The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity" talked about how living to 100 will be more widely within reach this century with medical advances.
The book noted how the traditional three-step "study-work-retire" model will no longer be relevant with people living so long.
Instead, it urged people to move towards a "multi-stage life" where re-learning and re-skilling are needed at different ages.
Mr Heng added: "For Singapore to keep on thriving, we must continually bring out the best in our people and encourage those who have succeeded to help others around them find success. In this way, we build a better future for Singapore together."
He noted that initiatives such as investing more in preschool education, getting secondary schools to offer Applied Learning Programmes and the recent announcement of Subject-Based Banding will help bring out the best in people.
Mr Heng was speaking at the annual dinner of the SG100 Foundation, which aims to provide a platform where people can unite in nation-building and continue Singapore's legacy towards SG100.
This dinner, which attracted about 800 people from various groups, celebrated centenarians and centenarian organisations - those that have been around for at least 100 years.
Mr Heng praised the contributions of pioneers and centenarians at the event: "Let us imbue the spirit of resilience and ruggedness in our young people.
"Singapore is where we are today because of the hard work and contributions of our forefathers and pioneers. Their journey was not a straight and level path, but one with many ups and downs. But our pioneers faced challenges resolutely and overcame each of them."
The foundation also launched National Treasures on Friday. The social and health initiative jointly created by Changi General Hospital, South East CDC and Prudential Assurance Singapore will help seniors tell their stories.
The SG100 Foundation's coffee table book entitled SG53 Bold - Be Outstanding Living your Dreams, which tell the stories of people who have contributed to Singapore, was also launched.
"We must work together to build a caring and cohesive society. The risk of a weakening of social cohesion remains very real in societies today," added Mr Heng, who referenced last week's mosque shootings in New Zealand.
"We must continue to grow a community of care and contribution. As pillars of our future, our youths are important agents of change. Through acts of service, they can create positive impact in the society and lead change by rallying others in the community.
"Our corporates also play a multiplier role in catalysing giving, as they can offer their expertise and resources, and mobilise their employees to embark on corporate social responsibility initiatives."
Mr Heng also gave out plaques to centenarian organisations, including schools such as Raffles Institution, St Andrew's School, St Margaret's Secondary School, Anglo Chinese School, St Joseph's Institution and Hwa Chong Institution, and other organisations such as Eu Yan Sang International, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, Salvation Army and The Straits Times.