Singapore—Josephine Teo, the country’s Minister for Manpower, emphasized that as much as the 4th Industrial Revolution has been about the loss of jobs because of advancements in technology, it’s important to focus on the creation of new jobs because of this technology because this is where “hope lies.”
At a welcome dinner for the Singapore Summit Young Societal Leaders Programme on September 18, Wednesday, Ms Teo said, “It is important to pay attention to job creation, even as we think about and pay attention to the jobs that are being lost because that’s really where the hope lies.”
The Straits Times (ST) reports that there are 19 delegates attending the Summit from 13 different countries, which include the Netherlands, Thailand, and China.
While it’s a fact that artificial intelligence, robotics, and digitization have caused many jobs to be automated, advancing technology has also created many new jobs in turn, and obsessing over or the impact level of new technology on job loss can lead to no good.
The summit will last a total of four days, and was organised jointly by the Temasek Foundation and the National University of Singapore. Its website says that the “Programme is an exclusive by-invitation-only programme designed for Young Societal Leaders (YSLs), aged 40 and under, who are doing significant work of making societies better for all. The Programme is designed for YSLs to have a voice on a global stage to convey their perspective, passion, and purpose.”
Ms Teo was the guest of honour at the welcome dinner and said in her speech that there will be an even bigger partnership between companies and the Government in the future, in order to face the changes and advancements to come.
“The scale and the depth of the changes in all likelihood will be more intense than in the past… there is great value in attempting to crowd-source understanding of what’s happening, of issues as they emerge and also ideas for solutions.”
The Manpower Minister said that “a focus on workers and a focus on jobs and skills ought to be at front and centre of everything we do” regardless of what the 4th Industrial Revolution may bring to different sectors in business.
She told the delegates the four issues of job outcomes that “keep her awake at night,” which are: how to keep employment rates high, and conversely, unemployment low, sustainable wage growth, and financial security for those who have retired.
“We all expect that the future of work will be reshaped. The question is how it will be reshaped, and whether we can anticipate (changes), and if we have a better sense of what to expect, what we can do about it,” she added.
Later on in the night, in response to Philippine delegate Cherrie Atilano’s question about the challenges of women in leadership, Ms Teo said that women still bear the brunt of more caregiving duties within the family.
”We have to ask ourselves what are the practical ways that we can allow women to continue to advance in their professional lives, and that means helping to take care of other commitments, primarily the family.
This idea of women empowerment is contextual. You have to look at different societies and ask what is impeding women from going further, and then find practical ways to address it.
I would not say that Singapore has completely arrived, (but) I think that we’ve made good progress, and we’d like to be able to do more,” Ms Teo said. -/TISG