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How the impact of automation is being tackled in Singapore

In response to Minister of Parliament Saktiandi Supaat's query on ensuring that the new opportunities and job roles brought about by automation will be equally distributed across all affected workers; Singapore's Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo, has provided data and statistics.

The full response to Minister Supaat's three questions is provided below.

What is being done to ensure that the new opportunities from by automation will be equally distributed across all affected workers

Minister Teo cited the following initiatives being undertaken:
  • Recognising that some workers may be displaced as a result of restructuring, the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) offer employment facilitation services.
  • Under A&G, there are now over 100 Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) in over 30 sectors and around 50 other Place-and-Train (PnT) programmes that provide wage and training support for employers to re-train workers to take up new jobs or move into sectors with better job prospects.
  • Since 2016, more than 11,600 individuals have been placed in new jobs or careers through PCP and PnT programmes.
  • Where possible, the Government intervenes upstream before workers are retrenched. For example, with MAS’s support, WSG and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) developed the PCP for consumer banking to re-skill about 3,000 PMETs over the next two years. This will enable bank employees such as those in bank teller and operational roles to be redeployed to new functions such as digital marketing and relationship management, instead of being retrenched.
  • Simiarly, for the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, WSG is working with HP Singapore and the Institute of Systems Science (ISS) to re-skill existing employees through the PCP for data analysts. This will enable employees, such as those in procurement and sourcing, to use data analytics to improve operations efficiency and stay relevant to their employers.
  • A wide range of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) programmes is also available. For example, under SSG, the institutes of higher learning have launched training programmes in eight emerging and priority domain areas including advanced manufacturing, data analytics, and urban solutions.
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These efforts, Minister Teo affirmed, help to equip existing workers to effectively handle the new technologies implemented by their employers. She pointed to the benefits of this improved productivity, saying: "From 2012 to 2017, the real income of full-time employed Singaporeans rose by 3.9% per annum at the median and 4.3% at the 20th percentile."

Whether there are plans to partner private companies to develop training programmes to help affected industries make the transition

As of now, the training provided is heavily subsidised with enhanced funding support for mid-career individuals, low-wage workers and employees of SMEs.

Minister Teo explained: "Many of them are delivered with private sector partners. Where appropriate, such partnerships will continue to be pursued."

How many people have upskilled themselves in the past three years tapping on the Government schemes

The training participation rate for the resident labour force increased from 35% in 2015 to 48% in 2017. The number of participants in MOE/SSG-funded training programmes increased from 360,000 in 2015 to 430,000 in 2017.

Photo / StockUnlimited

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