“Every worker has to be re-skilled, re-trained and re-educated to achieve higher standards of capabilities” (To Do Well In Next Five Years, Singapore Must…: Better Treatment For Citizens, Miss Rachel Chan).
Has change become the new constant in Singapore, at least in terms of our fiscal development?
Referring to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comments in the report, “To Do Well In Next Five Years, Singapore Must…” (February 19, 2010), there seems to be a concerted and collective effort to encourage Singaporean workers to continuously upgrade and retrain their skills and capabilities. The entire notion is premised on the fact that economic challenges to our nation would only become steeper in time to come; and to take solace in the status quo instead of enhancing present productivity and innovation levels would be akin to self-destruction. Therefore, employers have a strong impetus to work with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to render their employees more adept and prepared in their respective positions.
However, would this process of improvement and enhancement ever cease? To the worker on the ground, the slew of recommendations from the administration or government-linked organisation merely revolves around supposedly-repetitive programmes for them to take their skills up a notch – again. Inevitably, it leads many to wonder if the assortment of supply-side policies do realistically effect much-needed boosters to fledgling corporations and struggling employees. On another front – even with the new emphasis on unique and up-and-coming industries – does the present environment in Singapore provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurs to confidently strike out on their own?
It is imperative for our nation to forge ahead; but whilst individuals and corporations are in pursuit of increased sales and heightened development, the administration should not lose sight of other aspects equally important to Singapore’s growth. There is a much desired need to strike equilibrium between economic development and socio-welfare concerns, rather than solely focusing on the former. The fact that Singapore was recently ranked seventieth in International Living’s 2010 Quality Of Life Index should bring much attention for the administration to remedy the situation. Not only should economic growth be aggregated in such a way that every Singaporean gets to enjoy our fruits of labour fairly, but there should also be the recognition that there is a plethora of welfare aspects that we can explore to make our country a better place to live, work and play in for all.
Let us also not blind ourselves to the numerous challenges in our society, as well as their accompanying ramifications. The development in numbers per se can never be a substitute for peripheral elements in our everyday lives.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.