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

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Asked by Kenneth Lou

Asked on 28 Jun 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, Co-founder at Seedly
Level 8. Wizard
Updated on 28 Jun 2019

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
Level 4. Prodigy
Updated on 11 Jul 2019

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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Shieleen
Level 3. Wonderkid
Answered on 28 Jun 2019

The bottom line is don’t be complacent, don’t be stuck in the past, don’t externalize problems, stay open-minded and take action to prepare & prevent whatever you’re worrying about.

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Samuel Yip
Level 3. Wonderkid
Answered on 28 Jun 2019

Repetitive tasks would be standardised going forward. If we look at the purchase of travel insurance and investment packages, plain vanilla instruments can now be purchased on our own over the internet. This skips the purchase process through a salesman.

I think going forward, skills and exposure would be needed to stay in jobs because valued employees are those that can handle exceptions.

Stay optimistic and think critically about what can go wrong when you are at work. Think of new solutions to solve problems faster than before. This is still the value of using human capital instead of machines. It is not encouraged to just follow through motion at work because these are the jobs that are likely to be replaced by machines soon. 😁

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Rave Ong Ci De
Rave Ong Ci De
Level 5. Genius
Answered on 13 Jul 2019

Unlikely to lose jobs, but have to adapt to new job landscape. If a job is removed/deleted, then another job wil take its place. It is like the Steam revolution of the past. When steam powered engines were created, people no longer depended on transport tools such as horses, trishaws, etc. So people who do these jobs for a living technically lose thei jobs due to technological advancements. However, from the loss of jobs comes the creation of new ones, such as horse racing, maintenance of said steam engines, etc. What about AI? Well, for one, there needs to be someone who would test-proof the AI to ensure that the script runs properly, the data do not get stolen, defence against ransomeware, etc. I feel that in future, there would be more open source coding for people to play around with, so white hackers could be one area, along with people who can mix the code to customise software for specific niches. Highly personalised services, such as standup comedians, personal shoppers, modeling are less likely to be affected by AI advancement. So jobs in the area of AI process, and highly personalised services are here to stay, where routine jobs such as petty cash claims are in danger of being automated. As for foreign talents, there is not so much of a threat per se. If anything, it goes to show that you are exposed to different people and more culture. What if, for current job, instead of the foreigners coming to steal the jobs, it became that one is seconded to overseas? As long as one have the ability, one should not be afraid of healthy competition.

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Mujimoro
Mujimoro
Level 4. Prodigy
Answered on 09 Jul 2019

Regarding foreign talent: Modern singapore wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions from overseas talent in every sector.

And often, foreigners are extremely hard working and hungry for success and even survival. Singaporeans should continue to work hard alongside foreign talent. It is not a zero sum game.

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Lok Yang Teng
Lok Yang Teng
Level 6. Master
Updated on 11 Jul 2019

Humans by nature are rather pessimistic creatures which looks more towards the negative aspect of things. Take for instance the computer. Ever since the advent of computers in the early 1970s, there has been numerous statistics on the enormous number of job losses. Many fear accounting and storekeeping jobs will be gone in the next few years, but look at today. There are many many other breakthroughs in science and technology that has help created many jobs.

We fail to account for and take notice at the other side of the spectrum. More jobs are created while some jobs are made more efficient. It's true we will not see a boom in the economy like the yesteryears, and as such there will be a lot of people vying for the 'limited top spots'. It isn't no jobs, it's just what do you want to do. I don't think there is a immediate threat of your job being replaced -- at least not yet.

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Yk Lai
Yk Lai

11 Jul 2019

I don't dispute that Singapore needs foreign talents. My company hires many foreign employees but most of them are lazy or incompetent. These people will become the burden to the existing hardworking employees as many strive for the company's survival.
Yinghua Liu
Yinghua Liu
Level 4. Prodigy
Answered on 28 Jun 2019

I just attended a course regarding Industry 4.0. Companies are beginning to shift towards digital transformation. Redundant job/roles will be slowly phase out, taken over by technology.

But there are still stuff that robots or AI can’t do such as Creative thinking, managing human emotions, building trust etc

What we can do to keep our rice bowl 1. Keep on upgrading and not be stagnant in your role. 2. Learn new skills (soft skills especially) 3. Open mindset and be adaptable to changes (Change is constant. If we are resistant to changes, we face the risk of being replaced) 4. With some jobs being taken over by robots/AI, there are also new jobs created.

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