Wholesale trade sector has potential

This article is more than 12 months old

Despite challenges from increased digitalisation, the wholesale trade industry still has good growth potential, thanks to rising consumerism in Asia and Singapore's robust trading ecosystem.

That is the view of labour MP and NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay, who yesterday said the sector "shows great potential for jobs covering a diverse range of opportunities for working people from different disciplines and industries".

Much of his optimism stems from a government decision in July to boost job training in wholesale trade - a sector that mainly covers the business-to-business trading of goods such as agricultural materials, machinery and merchandise. It was an industry deemed at risk from disruptive technology.

The move could create about 10,000 openings in wholesale trade by 2020, on top of the more than 325,000 people employed now.

It is expected that as work processes become more heavily digitalised, manual jobs and routine tasks will be replaced by higher-value positions.

Representatives from unionised wholesale trade companies anticipate the skills that will be in demand include familiarity with data analytics, e-commerce and trade financing instruments.

Mr Tay, who is director of NTUC's Future Jobs, Skills and Training Department, wrote on the National Trades Union Congress blog: "The outlook of the sector is positive and I am excited about (its) future."

The member of the Wholesale Trade Industry Tripartite Committee added: "We will also need to digitalise trade in Singapore to enhance our global trade connectivity and gain a foothold in the future of global trading."

His comments come ahead of tomorrow's Wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map launch.

Wholesale and retail trade made up 14.2 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product last year. Overall domestic wholesale trade saw a year-on-year increase of 7.3 per cent, during the three months from April to June this year.