Singapore’s industries must outcompete others and be the disruptors, says prime minister Lee

Author: PM editorial | Date: 4 May 2016

The country needs to transform its economy now and employers should be open-minded about hiring older workers

In his May Day Rally speech, Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said it is urgent that the country transforms its economy in the face of slowing growth.
Lee said the $4.5 billion promised in this year’s budget for industry transformation would help organisations make the most of R&D and use technology to adapt, prosper and be competitive.
“We must realise that we are facing deep and structural changes in our economy. It is driven by globalisation and technology. It is affecting many countries, not just Singapore,” said Lee. Referring to online success stories such as Uber and Airbnb, he explained that organisations should be creative and bold when looking for new business models: “Outcompete others and be the disruptor. Do not just sit there and let other people disrupt you.”
The speech shared common ground with The Future of Talent in Singapore 2030 report (, published by the CIPD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI). The report urged Singapore to anticipate future trends instead of relying on old practices for continued success and risk complacency with the economy.
The annual May Day message highlighted the slowdown in global economies as well as Singapore’s, but also gave reasons for optimism. The ICT, finance, insurance and healthcare sectors are all seeing new investment and job creation.
Prime minister Lee also pointed out that Singapore’s slow growth is not caused by unemployment, which is low, but rather a shortage of workers. To remedy this, he encouraged employers to be “open-minded” about hiring older workers who may be changing careers.
“We are particularly concerned for the older workers looking for new jobs, not just rank and file older workers but also the professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) as well,” said Lee.
“Their knowledge may not be specific to the industry or to the organisation but they have developed other useful skills. They have some grey hair, but grey hair is not bad because you are more mature, you are more stable, you can mentor the younger ones, guide them when people have emotional problems or family problems.”
He also spoke about the need to match workers to jobs with proper training through programmes such as SkillsFuture. “We are going all-out to help all of the workers to upgrade, uplift yourselves, get new and better jobs,” said Lee.