• Ensuring workers have the skills they need for the jobs of the future is vital.
  • Singapore has prioritized resources in education and lifelong learning to ensure workers have fullfilling careers.
  • Collaboration between multiple stakeholders is key to achieving this.
  • Education must keep up with the technology-driven changes in skills.

Millions of people's working lives look very different to 18 months ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant change to workplaces around the world - and accelerated many trends, particularly around technology.

The question remains though - how can businesses and employees prepare for what's coming next?

This was the focus of discussions during the Preparing for the 'New' Future of Work session at the World Economic Forum's Sustainable Development Summit 2021.

Lessons from Singapore

"If you look at the history of Singapore, we have been looking at workforce reskilling since the day the nation was created," said Gog Soon Joo, the Chief Skills Officer at SkillsFuture Singapore.

Every one of our citizens should have a fulfilling career, she added. And that's meant significant investment in free education from primary and secondary to tertiary.

But lifelong learning is very important too. Singaporeans over the age of 25 are able to claim $500 credit towards certain training programmes. And, there are also numerous subsidized courses available for citizens.

"I think, at the end of the day, we want to ensure that economic growth does cascade down to individual citizen's career success and also supports a competitive economy," she said.

Top 10 skills of 2025
The Future of Jobs report looks at the changing skill requirements.
Image: World Economc Forum

Working together

It's important that in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic we look to the future and not to the past, though, said Gog Soon Joo.

We need to 'reskill for the future economy', she stressed and "allow people to pivot from a sunset industry to a sunrise industry".

But this requires coordination and engagement with numerous stakeholders across government, business and society more broadly.

"The world of work has to get better for everyone," said Robert E. Moritz, the Global Chairman of PwC. "We've got to evolve and collectively work across the entire ecosystem to make it actually work better for everybody."

The role of technology

As part of this, we also need to acknowledge the role of technology, said Dan Rosensweig, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chegg, Inc.

"All of the economies around the world are becoming tech-enabled," he said. "But that doesn't mean everybody has to be an engineer. It just means everybody has to understand and utilize technology in whatever role that they happen to be playing."

Skilling, reskilling and upskilling are vital to this, we need to be aware that the skills that were appropriate 25 years ago, even 5 years, might not be appropriate now.

"Institutions, including the government, including education, need to realign with students' needs and businesses' goals," he added.

Indeed, the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2020 warned about the reskilling needs for the future of work.

Skills expected to change
Technology is driving major change in workers' skills.
Image: World Economic Forum

"We have to look at the cost of education," Rosensweig added. "The way education is delivered, the curriculum that's delivered, the length of time it takes to get a so-called degree." Education needs to be 'low-cost' and 'on-demand', he said.