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7 Strategies

The CFE’s vision is for us to be the pioneers of the next generation. In the future economy, our people should have deep skills and be inspired to learn throughout their lives. Our businesses should be innovative and nimble. Our city vibrant, connected to the world, and continually renewing itself, and our Government coordinated, inclusive and responsive.

Seven mutually-reinforcing strategies were identified to achieve this vision:

1. Deepen and diversify international connections
2. Acquire and utilise deep skills
3. Strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up
4. Build strong digital capabilities
5. Develop a vibrant and connected city of opportunity
6. Develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)
7. Partner each other to enable innovation and growth


1. Deepen and diversify international connections

The strategic imperative for free and open markets remains important. Given the current sentiments against globalisation, we must not only resist protectionism but forge ahead to deepen linkages with our overseas partners and seize opportunities in new markets.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ We must strengthen trade and investment cooperation by continuing to work with like-minded partners to advance the liberalisation of trade and investment, and reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers through platforms such as the ASEAN Economic Community and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Singapore’s joint projects to develop industrial and business parks in India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as township projects in China, have delivered mutual benefits, and we should continue to explore similar opportunities beyond our shores.

▪ To build new networks to facilitate innovation, our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and companies should link up with overseas partners in major innovation hubs and in key demand markets to form a Global Innovation Alliance (GIA). In-market partners can come on board the GIA to set up innovation launchpads, where Singapore and foreign startups can work together to tap on the expertise in our IHLs and their partners. In addition, the GIA can serve as welcome centres or focal points where Singapore-based enterprises and institutions can collaborate with overseas partners.

▪ We will need to acquire deeper knowledge of regional and global markets, by spending time in these countries. The SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative is one avenue to expose potential corporate leaders to quality overseas assignments. More internationalisation programmes can be developed for students to acquire Global-Asia market insights and immerse themselves in overseas markets, while trade associations and economic agencies should undertake more study trips so businesses can gain insights into the region.

Read the full report here.

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2. Acquire and utilise deep skills

With the rapid pace of technological development, our workers will need to develop deep skills to stay relevant. Learning throughout life needs to be our way of life, so we can quickly and easily adapt to new job demands, or even switch jobs or industries as the economy transforms.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ To facilitate acquisition of deeper skills, our training providers and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) should support more modularised and technology-enabled training programmes. The Government can consider setting up an online one-stop education, training, and career guidance portal to help Singaporeans plan their careers. 

▪ We should strength nexus between acquisition and utilisation of skills. For this to happen, training needs to be closely linked to the requirements of the job.

▪ We should develop more company-led programmes, such as IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), where company-led training efforts have resulted in a 100% placement rate among TeSA graduates. The Government and companies can also support more place-and-train schemes and work-learn programmes, not just for fresh graduates, but also existing employees.

▪ To make the labour market more efficient, and match jobseekers and employers better, we should improve the user experience and functionality of the national Jobs Bank.

▪ Existing schemes such as the Professional Conversion Programme and Career Support Programme can also be improved to ensure that everyone can benefit from growth.

Read the full report here.

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3. Strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up

Enterprises must be able to organise people, ideas and capital effectively to create value. As competition intensifies, growing and deepening capabilities among all our businesses will be critical. Companies can tap on the Research Innovation Enterprise (RIE) 2015 and 2020 plans to develop viable commercial products. Companies that have strong growth potential can be supported to scale up and internationalise.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ Given the significant investments in Research and Development, we must strengthen our innovation ecosystem by establishing commercially-oriented entitles that have the technical expertise, business networks, and instincts to better commercialise the research findings and intellectual property (IP) of our research institutions.

▪ We should help high-growth enterprises scale up and internationalise with targeted assistance, including access to networks, mentors, technology and financing. To encourage partnerships among enterprises, we should step up efforts under initiatives like the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT).

▪ To catalyse the private sector to provide more growth capital, we want to encourage variety of private sector funding and simplify the regulatory framework for venture capitalists.

Read the full report here.

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4. Build strong digital capabilities

Digitalisation is creating new industries and transforming existing industries. It also offers businesses an effective means of reaching global markets. Building on our Smart Nation vision, we can tap on the economic opportunities offered by the digital economy by promoting the adoption of technologies and building strong digital capabilities. Data will be an increasingly important source of comparative advantage and we need to improve our ability to use it productively in the economy.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ SMEs should be supported to adopt digital technologies, through the provision of expertise, financing support. We can also accelerate the pace of adoption of digital technologies among SMEs through national initiatives like the National Trade Platform and a National Payments Council.

▪ The Government can build deep capabilities in applied data analytics and cybersecurity by establishing joint laboratories with industry players and leveraging on National Service (NS), where Full-Time NS men can be trained to develop deep, niche skills in cybersecurity.

▪ The Government can also establish a dedicated programme office to support enterprises to harness data as an asset. This office can provide industry-specific regulatory guidance and co-develop flagship data science projects.

Read the full report here.

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5. Develop a vibrant and connected city of opportunity

Singapore’s capacity to flourish in the future global economy is tied to the city-state’s ability to attract and create opportunities. The city must be well-connected externally, with sufficient space to grow and rejuvenate internally.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ The Government should continually invest in external connectivity through new international connections, such as Changi Airport Terminal 5, the next-generation seaport in Tuas, and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail.

▪ We must continue to plan boldly for growth and city rejuvenation, and develop ways to create new space, such as by developing an underground masterplan to expand underground infrastructure. We can also use our existing space better, for example by creating an urban logistics system that will reduce congestion.

▪ To build partnerships for a vibrant city, we should create dense clusters of mutually-reinforcing economic activities, such as in Punggol and the Jurong Innovation District. We can also make existing iconic districts, such as Orchard Road, livelier. The private sector can partner Government for such projects. To support this, and respond nimbly to new opportunities, the Government should allow greater flexibility in land use.

▪ Partnerships between the Government and the private sector will help Singapore-based enterprises develop exportable capabilities in the field of urban solutions. Special test-bedding zones can be set aside for firms to develop and refine their products.

Read the full report here.

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6. Develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs)

An idea raised early in the CFE process, the ITMs were announced at Budget 2016 and are already being implemented. Six Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) have been launched thus far and they will cover 23 industries and about 80% of the economy by the end of FY2017. ITMs bring together industry partners, trade associations and chambers (TACs), unions, and public agencies to help each industry.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ We should continue to adopt a tailored approach for each industry so we are focused on where the potential can be best realised in each case. For example, there are industries with good growth prospects because they can take advantage of global opportunities and rapidly-improving technology. ITMs for these industries will help companies to upgrade their capability so they can seize these opportunities and create good jobs.

▪ We should enhance the ITMs by adopting a cluster approach to maximise synergies across industries. For example we can leverage on skills adjacencies between industries to support the provision of skilled manpower to both in the food and hospitality sectors – such as in the food services and hospitality sectors, which need similar skills.

Read the full report here.

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7. Partner each other to enable innovation and growth

The path ahead is uncharted, and the Government must strive to create an environment where TACs, unions, enterprises and individuals can come together and trust one another.

The CFE’s recommendations are as follows:

▪ There is a greater role for TACs and unions. TACs are valuable multipliers, leading industry-level initiatives and supporting enterprises to scale up and make inroads in overseas markets. They must step forward and lead with industry level initiatives. Unions too must help workers prepare for the jobs of the future - especially those who may be more vulnerable in a rapidly-changing economy.

▪ The Government should create a regulatory environment that supports innovation and risk-taking. This includes test-bedding regulatory innovations, streamlining support schemes for enterprises, as well as reviewing and rationalising the roles and functions of government agencies that support enterprises in various ways.

▪ The Government should consider using lead demand more systematically to support the development of promising industries.

▪ Rising domestic expenditures due to ageing, and global changes in tax rules will necessitate a review of Singapore’s tax system. The Government should review and reshape Singapore’s tax system to ensure that it remains broad, progressive, fair, competitive and pro-growth.

▪ The Government should ensure that even as the economy grows, attention is paid to the quality of the environment. Given the threat of climate change, Singapore should play its part in contributing to global efforts to create a sustainable environment. In that way, we can maintain a high quality living environment in Singapore for generations to come.

Read the full report here.

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