SINGAPORE: As Singapore transforms its economy and revamps its manufacturing model, the Government needs to work with educators and employers to create high-quality jobs for the future - not just in manufacturing but across all sectors in the economy - said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
That is a fundamental challenge of Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said Mr Tharman on Tuesday (Oct 16).
He was speaking at the opening of the inaugural Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP) 2018 trade event at the Singapore Expo. It is the Asia-Pacific edition of Germany's Hannover Messe, which is the world’s largest trade fair for industrial technology.
“It’s a challenge because one way or another, if we succeed in improving speed and efficiency, manufacturing in the long term will not have as many jobs. There will be jobs but they will be higher quality jobs but there will not be as many," said Mr Tharman.
"But we’ve got to create jobs outside of manufacturing so it is still a job-rich future."
Mr Tharman, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, added that the Government needs to ensure that workers benefit from the transformations brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“The key is collaboration, public and private sector, bringing in the academic and training institutions, tapping on experts wherever they are and not thinking that this is one country against another. This is really about the whole region transforming itself together,” he said
“Ultimately, for any national policy maker, it’s quality jobs, it’s improved wages over time that provide the basis for high standards of living,” he added.
MORE SUPPORT FOR COMPANIES
To help companies accelerate the implementation of their own industry transformation programmes, the Economic Development Board (EDB) has launched an Index Partner Network through which firms can build a community of partners in areas of technology, talent development, financing and training.
The new industry network complements the Smart Industry Readiness Index, which companies can use to receive an evaluation of their readiness to move into Industry 4.0.
Mr Tharman said the Smart Industry Readiness Index allows firms, regardless of size, to understand where they stand on transformation.
Singapore firms can also look forward to more innovation partnerships with Germany, with the signing of an agreement between EDB, Enterprise Singapore and German Accelerator Southeast Asia. It aims to support startups looking to venture into Germany and Europe.
Under another agreement aimed at ramping up productivity and competitiveness, small- and medium-size enterprises in industrial estates and developments run by JTC Corporation will enjoy access to advanced manufacturing solutions and training programmes customised for their businesses.
When it comes to capturing Industry 4.0 opportunities in Asia, the Singapore Government also needs to tweak and rethink the use of regulations to drive innovation, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing who was also at the trade event.
He was responding to a question at a plenary session about how the Government can better support companies.
“In the past, regulations are about preventing bad things from happening, to regulate what not to happen but increasingly, we need to use regulation to enable experiments and good things to happen.” Mr Chan said.
He also stressed that in order to help firms adopt new technologies and adapt to technological changes, the Government needs to work closely with trade associations as they understand best the challenges faced by its member companies across industries.
“The real substance of getting things done is through the trade associations or the professional guilds, because they know the industry well and they know the specific needs of the industry so they can help to curate specific projects, ideas, technologies to be customised to the respective companies within the industry," said Mr Chan.
"So this is where the Singapore Government wants to do much better in working with our trade associations as the intermediary.”