Singapore—Ahead of the Finance Minister’s first May Day Rally speech, Heng Swee Keat emphasised the importance of international cooperation to ensure a good future and to build a better world.
On Sunday, April 28, Mr Heng spoke to around 100 delegates at the welcome dinner of the Singapore Conference on the Future of Work: Embracing Technology; Inclusive Growth.
The Straits Times (ST) reported that Mr Heng noted that countries all around the globe are faced with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, making it even more vital for them to work hand in hand toward sustainable and long-term development.
He appealed to the various stakeholders and actors in the labour sector, including local and foreign labour ministers and tripartite leaders, to help people grow and develop new pathways for varied learning needs in order for workers to have lives of deeper meaning and value.
Mr Heng, who assumes the position of Deputy Prime Minister on Wednesday, May 1, told the audience, “As we become more interdependent and interconnected, it is even more important for countries and international organisations to work closely together to tackle these challenges within a rules-based, multilateral framework, and to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.”
The Finance Minister also noted different ways that the country is ensuring its future in terms of work and employment, such as strengthening the partnerships between the government, unions, and employers, as well as making sure that people add new skills they need for the future.
The conference was organised by the the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation and focuses on the Work for a Brighter Future report, which was published by the ILO in January.
As an example of international cooperation, labour ministers from ASEAN will adopt a common statement at the conference, voicing their commitment to joining their resources as well as preparing people and companies for the future of work.
On May 1, Mr Heng will give his first May Day Rally address as Deputy Prime Minister. He told the delegates at the Future of Work conference that when he gives his speech on Labour Day, he will be explaining further how the Government will keep on providing support for unions so they can build workforces that are future-ready and flexible.
He also noted the three factors that have a great impact on the future of jobs as well as on the economy as a whole: advancements in technology, slowing support for globalization, as well as changes in demographics.
Therefore, “looking ahead, we cannot take for granted that there will be good jobs in the future, as there are trends shaping the future of work,” the Finance Minister said.
“As global economic weight shifts around the world, and some towards Asia, and business supply chains reconfigure, a key challenge will be for countries to remain open, transform industries and collaborate with one another to achieve better outcomes for workers,” he added.
The Finance Minister also talked about the issues that students from Nanyang Technological University talked to him about in March, wherein some of the students had expressed concerns that machines would replace them in the near future.
Mr Heng said, ”Is it the case that the Government has been too effective in encouraging upskilling and reskilling…to the extent that it has worried people?
But I was glad when several students later told me that they are thinking hard about the future, so that they can be better prepared.
Indeed, by thinking deeply about our future, we can seek to create a better future.”/TISG