This article was produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
Technology continues to advance rapidly, and changing demands of tech-savvy consumers can open up new markets. Many Asian consumers – Singaporeans included – stand at the frontier of technology adoption. Think of the new opportunities like private hire vehicles, online shopping, food delivery using an app, and even fintech solutions, which have sprung up in recent years.
Indeed, technology innovations has changed the way we work, live and play. However, for people in the workforce, technological advances could be seen as a double-edged sword.
On one hand hand, technology and automation can increase productivity and allow us to perform higher value work. Many of us, especially the younger generation, have grown up with technology. This puts us in a better position to seize opportunities brought about by new digital advances.
On the other hand, technological disruptions could make certain job functions redundant – potentially within several years or decades. Earlier jobs like office typists, lift attendants, and bus conductors are virtually extinct within the span of a generation.
We examine 3 jobs today that have evolved, and explore what Singaporeans can do to keep themselves relevant and take advantage of opportunities created by technological changes.
Whether you’re a small business owner, working at a listed company, or running a non-profit organisation, good bookkeeping is essential.
As complicated as accounting procedures might be, a lot of it is also predictable and rules-based.
As more organisations adopt electronic means of invoicing and sending/receiving payments, much of this work has the potential to become automated. Together with optical character recognition and artificial intelligence capabilities, software can make sense of the data.
Thanks to improvement in technology, accountants have been relieved of much time they need for the man-hour intensive manual work. This gives them more time to serve more clients (and get paid highly for) and to provide them with higher value adding services like consulting and forensic auditing.
For Singaporeans who wish to reskill and adapt to changing job demands, there’s the Adapt and Grow initiative, which was enhanced in Budget 2017. Mid-career Singaporeans and PMETs who are ready to make the switch to another sector can also benefit from Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) to learn new skills and take on new roles.
More than 250,000 jobseekers have benefitted from the Adapt and Grow initiative in 2017, while close to 3,800 PMETs have received training and wage support for their career switch under the PCP.
#2 Taxi And Private Hire Drivers
Gone are the days where only commercial taxis would ply the roads, and passengers have to stand by the road side to flag a cab (and often in vain).
Today, GPS technology has become so advanced that passengers can call for a taxi or private hire vehicle anytime, anywhere with a few taps on the mobile phone.
The technology has become so smart that we do not even need to enter our boarding point. Our location is automatically tracked.
Drivers’ locations are also tracked, and jobs can be automatically accepted on their behalf to match them to the nearest passenger. This saves the driver time and effort to look for a passenger on the road.
Faster and easier job acceptance means more time to make more money. Greater convenience for passengers also means greater demand, and more job opportunities for both taxi drivers and private hire drivers.
#3 Property Agents
Selling and buying properties can be a tedious and long process, especially the logistical effort needed to arrange for the seller, potential buyers and property agents to do a physical viewing of the house.
But increasingly, property agents are using technology to help them market the property in more convenient ways that can reach more people at a fraction of their time and costs.
Today, more and more property agents are using 360-degree video camera technology to capture the entire house. This allows potential buyers to do a virtual walk-through of the house without leaving their homes.
Property agents are also making use of social media platforms to market the property to more potential buyers through engaging video showcases of the property.
The future is clearly in tech. And if you think you need a stronger head start on how to navigate the digital landscape, there are programmes such as SkillsFuture for Digital Workspace and TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA).
Support Doesn’t Just End At Training Opportunities
If you are short of time to sit down in a classroom, you can take up short, modular e-learning courses offered by local universities, polytechnics and ITEs. This way, you can make use of your commuting time or break time to access courses catering to your skills and job needs, and learn at your own pace and time.
What’s more, you can enjoy funding support if you take approved courses under the SkillsFuture framework. There are also subsidies of up to 90% of course fees under the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy are available to old workers who wish to upskill and reskill themselves.
To ensure that Singaporeans are matched to jobs where they can best use their skills, the Government introduced the National Jobs Bank in Budget 2017 to make it easier for jobseekers to look for jobs, as well as for companies looking to hire.
These measures for workers form one part of a broader range of efforts to get Singapore ready for tomorrow’s economy.
Other than preparing Singaporeans for the opportunities and jobs of the future, there are also plans like the Industry Transformation Maps to support the transformation of our industries and businesses.
Change Brings Opportunities – What We Do About It Matters Most
New technologies are reshaping the global economy and jobs, and with it, they bring new opportunities, such as helping us be more productive at work.
Singaporeans are starting from a strong foundation, with extensive resources and support available to improve our employability and earning potential for years to come.
The key is to continually adapt ourselves so that we can not only be ready for the future, but to thrive and prosper.