WORKERS will get more access to training, career guidance and job market information to help them navigate an economy that is being shaped by the twin forces of technology and competition.
Companies will also partner government agencies and educational institutes to anticipate and identify future skills that will grow in demand.
These new moves were laid out by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday in a five-year plan which will see Singapore's economy transit to the next level.
Speaking at the launch of the new Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar yesterday evening, Mr Tharman said technology is sweeping a wave of changes across the global economy.
Automation has begun to replace human tasks across a broad swathe of jobs and even professional jobs such as auditing, legal advice and surgical tasks are being shaped by computerisation and machines, he said.
Developing countries are catching up with Singapore and competition is heating up, he said.
"We cannot change the world, but we can respond to and take advantage of the way the world is changing," he said. "We have to take advantage of new technologies and new global consumer demands to ensure that we remain a vibrant economy, and we give every Singaporean a chance to have quality jobs and fulfilling lives."
Singapore's economy is evolving to become an advanced economy. This will require workers with a mastery of their skills, honed by experience and time.
"We must cherish and respect the mastery of skills - the knowledge, practice and passion that goes into mastering skills, no matter what the job. That has to be our ethos as a society," he said, adding that this is at the "heart of an inclusive society".
Singapore will aim to build a continuing education system which will "intertwine education and the world of work", he said.
"It (the system) will enable every Singaporean to maximise his potential, from young and through life. It will build an advanced economy and ensure us a fair society," he added.
To do this, the Government will provide a full suite of career services that will help Singaporeans plan for their future careers. Workers will have to be prepared to be lifelong learners and continually equip themselves with new skills, said Mr Tharman.
To smooth the way, employers will be roped in to work closely with the Government to envision the needs of the future economy and workforce.
The standard and quality of the training industry will also be raised, said Mr Tharman. To drive the new plans forward, a new SkillsFuture Council, chaired by Mr Tharman, will be established. It will be made up of government agencies, the labour unions and employers.
Rounding off his speech, Mr Tharman said that what Singapore needs is "a meritocracy through life, not a meritocracy that's based on what you achieved at 18 or 24. Where you are assessed on your performance at every stage of your life, regardless of where you came from or what you started with. Assessed on your performance - that's a true meritocracy".
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