Wholesale trade sector to go digital
Digital strategies in road map set to create 10,000 jobs by 2020
To help Singapore capitalise on Asia's urbanisation and consumerism boom amid disruption, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran yesterday unveiled the industry transformation map for the wholesale trade sector.
The road map, which outlines strategies to digitalise the sector, is set to create 10,000 jobs by 2020.
The need to digitalise the sector follows technological advancements that are transforming the way global trade is conducted, Mr Iswaran said.
"Innovation cycles are becoming shorter, and enterprises must continually adapt and connect to emerging networks to stay ahead," he added.
The sector, which accounted for 9 per cent of Singapore's workforce last year, deals with business-to-business transaction of goods such as electronics, pharmaceutical items, food and commodities.
Aside from setting up digital platforms to help companies expand market reach and improve productivity, the road map also focuses on equipping Singaporeans - whether undergraduates or mid-career professionals - with the right skills.
Several agreements were inked yesterday to create training programmes in international trade for tertiary students and mid-level professionals.
A skills framework for the sector is expected to be launched in the second half of next year.
This is on top of programmes such as Singapore Management University's Professional Conversion Programme for international trading executives, which has placed 65 workers making a mid-career switch.
Leading distributor of luxury and beauty brands Luxasia is among the companies hiring these mid-career professionals.
With 2,500 employees across 11 countries, Luxasia has been beefing up its digital team to prepare for disruption in the sector, said its CEO, Dr Wolfgang Baier.
"We are investing in e-commerce. That is completely new for distributors or wholesalers, who were previously just handing the goods over.
"I see ourselves across the group having at least 100 people in the next three years working in new digital jobs such as digital marketing, data analytics and e-commerce. That group is going to grow, it is very clear," he told The New Paper.
Mobile phone distributor Raduga's head of market and business development April Lim also foresees openings in the digital realm.
But its main driving force still lies in human capital, she said.
"We still need that man on the ground to go in-country, in-market to really understand the economic and cultural situation, and how that translates into sales opportunities for us," she said.