Review of growth strategy for 23 sectors to be completed by next year, says DPM Heng

The review aims to build on the progress made under the Industry Transformation Maps since they were launched in 2016. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - The growth strategies of 23 industries here will be reviewed by next year to take into account changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (April 5).

Responding in Parliament to questions on the progress of the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said the review aims to build on the progress made under the ITMs since they were launched in 2016.

Mr Heng said that Covid-19 has accelerated long-term structural trends such as digital transformation, a review of globalisation and a focus on sustainability.

"For each of the 23 ITM sectors, we will update our sectoral strategies to create and seize opportunities through digitalisation, innovation, internationalisation, upskilling of workers and job redesign, with the aim of uplifting the productivity and wages of our workers, and creating good jobs for Singaporeans. We target to complete this by next year," said DPM Heng.

He added that the review will be complemented by the work of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce and the Singapore Together Alliances for Action, "which have served as pathfinders to help us seize immediate opportunities, even amid Covid-19".

The 23-member Emerging Stronger Taskforce is in charge of charting Singapore's post-pandemic economic recovery, while the Alliances for Action are industry-led coalitions tasked with devising ideas and generating jobs in areas such as sustainability, robotics and education technology.

Mr Heng said there has been "encouraging progress" since the ITMs were launched in 2016.

"Singapore's overall labour productivity, as measured by real value-added per actual hours worked, rose by 2.7 per cent per annum from 2016 to 2019, up from 2.2 per cent in the preceding three years," he said.

He added that real median income from work of full-time Singaporeans, including employer Central Provident Fund contributions, rose by 3.7 per cent per annum from 2016 to 2019 - higher than the 3.2 per cent per annum growth in the preceding three years.

"Up to 2019, our ITMs have been progressing well, with most of them on track to meet their targets. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has disrupted this progress," said DPM Heng.

He said that some of the ITM sectors, such as air transport, hotels and retail, were badly hit and will take time to recover, prompting the series of support measures to help them stay resilient.

"Ultimately, we transform our economy for the benefit of our people. Our ITMs chart the path forward for each sector to be competitive, so that our people can access good jobs and opportunities which improve their lives," he said.

Mr Heng added that specific attention is given to mid-career workers to help them stay employable, and he also noted the key role that tripartite partners play in ensuring business and workplace transformation.

For example, Workforce Singapore has worked with government agencies and industry players to develop Jobs Transformation Maps providing detailed insights on the impact of technology and automation.

The labour movement has also been working with businesses to establish company training committees to help workers upgrade while supporting their companies' transformation, said Mr Heng.

He also highlighted the labour movement's Job Security Council, which matches and places workers in jobs, minimising retrenchments and shortening unemployment periods for workers.

"The Government is acutely aware of the plight of vulnerable workers who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. We have therefore been providing additional support for these workers who require more time and effort to reskill, upskill and rejoin the workforce," said DPM Heng.

He cited the Jobs Growth Incentive, to which the Government allocated another $5.2 billion during the recent Budget to extend the hiring window by seven months.

More support is given to employers who hire mature local workers, people with disabilities and ex-offenders, added Mr Heng, while the Senior Employment Credit provides wage offsets for businesses that employ local workers aged 55 and above.

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