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Kenneth Lou

Kenneth Lou

Level 14·Co-founder at Seedly

13 Jul 2019

What does the future of jobs in Singapore look like? Are robots or foreign talents going to squeeze me out of my career?

It can be quite scary as a regular Singaporean working on a 9-5 job and you read on the papers how drones and AI would be coming in to automate your work. Not only that, but occasionally you feel that there feels that there is a never-ending mantra of Foreign talents coming in to Singapore to join our workforce.

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    Kenneth Lou

    Kenneth Lou

    28 Jun 2019

    Level 14·Co-founder at Seedly

    It can be quite scary as a regular Singaporean working on a 9-5 job and you read on the papers how drones and AI would be coming in to automate your work. Not only that, but occasionally you feel that there feels that there is a never-ending mantra of Foreign talents coming in to Singapore to join our workforce.

    A recent ST article: Robots to wipe out 20m jobs by 2030: Study

    So recently I was at the launch of SkillsFuture Festival 2019, SkillsFuture Singapore, in partnership with The Business Times to be involved in the innovation of the future of work.

    The panelists present were strategic leads in their fields:

    • Senior Minister of State, Chee Hong Tat, Ministry of Trade and Industry
    • Mr. Samuel Tsien, Group Chief Executive Officer, OCBC
    • Mr. Lai Chang Wen, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ninja Van
    • Mr. James Chang, Chief Executive Officer, Lazada Singapore
    • Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chairperson, Institute for Human Resource Professional (ex Shell)

    So it was interesting to learn from individuals spanning from Finance to Logistics to eCommerces and ex petro-chemical industries.

    There were some tough questions asked to them.

    Here are the main 5 things I learnt:

    1) Focus on skills, not roles

    • In your current role, you should look out for skills, both soft skills and hard skills
    • Always stay relevant and upgrade your skills that
    • For example: Data skills, not just being a data engineer alone
    • Roles always change, but keep collecting, upgrading and growing skills

    2) Don’t be afraid of Foreign Talent in your companies

    • As a country that is still growing, we should have the mindset where companies should look to continually grow over time, and fill skilled gaps
    • On a Ministry of Manpower (MoM) level, there is a Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC)
    • (DRC) refers to the maximum permitted ratio of foreign workers to the total workforce that a company in the stipulated sector is allowed to hire
    • It varies from sector to sector (eg Manufacturing vs Finance) and there are also foreign worker levies
    • Certain sectors, it is a huge effort to fill up roles (eg F&B and Manufacturing)

    3) Best technology does not win, best implementation wins

    • Technology is not a silver bullet, it’s a tool that helps us make things better and faster
    • It should be technology driven, but people led
    • Its also about change management, your staff, employees and customers will be onboard
    • It goes back to the skills and what skills you have to move it through to implement it in the best way possible

    4) Robots can never have the same level of High Trust and High Touch

    • High tech will need high trust and high touch to survive
    • Trust: Especially today with PDPA data issues and breaches, trust will take time to build over time
    • Touch: Across all industries eg banking and finance, there are still customer facing services, which cannot be replaced by robots
    • It’s ultimately a man-machine combination which will work

    5) Work-life balance is it a myth?

    • The role of constant development and constant learning truly rests on ourselves
    • Take time out to develop yourself for your own self improvement
    • Lifelong learning is ultimately the direction of where things are going
    • Work life satisfaction: A combination of career, home and personal life activities

    Hope this gives you some perspectives into the future of work in Singapore and happy to hear the other community thoughts as well

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      Jacqueline Yan

      Jacqueline Yan

      11 Jul 2019

      Level 7·Content Strategist at Seedly

      Regardless of the source of threat to our jobs, be it AI or foreign talents or any new development, there is nothing to be afraid of as long as we constantly seek to upgrade ourselves, work hard and work smart.

      It feels terrifying right now only because we think that AI is taking over all aspects of our jobs. What we really need to do is to dig deeper, and find ways in which AI can complement our roles and support our efforts in higher level work.

      And if we think that foreign talents are going to squeeze us out of our careers? Maybe it’s time to check in with ourselves, are we really doing our best or are we being complacent? If we are really to be replaced by foreign talent, what does that say about the quality of our work?

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        The bottom line is don’t be complacent, don’t be stuck in the past, don’t externalize problems, stay...

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