Singapore

S'pore's economic slowdown is impetus to upgrade workforce: NTUC chief

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Labour chief says economic slowdown can be impetus for transformation

The recent slowdown in Singapore's growth gives the Republic the impetus to further its efforts in restructuring its economy, said labour chief Ng Chee Meng yesterday.

Noting that second quarter growth came in at just 0.1 per cent over that of a year ago and there are strong headwinds coming, he urged companies and workers to seize the opportunities offered by disruptive technologies, and transform themselves to stay competitive.

"For our companies, we must continue to transform so that we can attain Industry 4.0 standards," said Mr Ng, at an inter-racial and religious harmony street parade in Punggol Field Road.

"We must make use of, explore and exploit new technologies to move up the value chain, so that we can remain competitive."

Flash estimate by Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on July 12 showed the economy grew 0.1 per cent year on year in the second quarter - the slowest since the second quarter of 2009.

MTI told The Straits Times in a report last Sunday that Singapore's full-year economic forecast could be cut again in view of the weak second quarter performance and headwinds in the global economy.

Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, also noted that workers must redouble their efforts to learn new skills which can help them move up in their careers and keep up with the times.

One way to start, he said, is for individuals to use their SkillsFuture credits to learn about the digital economy.

Mr Ng emphasised as well that the NTUC and Government stand ready to support companies and workers through this process of transformation.

At the event yesterday, involving over 10,000 residents in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC where Mr Ng is an MP, he also stressed the importance of everyone doing their part to maintain Singapore's religious harmony.

"We should always do our part to ensure that we build towards an even more inclusive society," he said.

Employment