SINGAPORE – The recent slowdown in Singapore’s growth gives the Republic the impetus to further its efforts in restructuring its economy, said labour chief Ng Chee Meng on Sunday (July 21).

Noting that second quarter growth came in at just 0.1 per cent over that of a year ago and there are strong headwinds coming, he urged companies and workers to seize the opportunities offered by disruptive technologies, and transform themselves to stay competitive.

His comments followed that of three other cabinet ministers earlier this month, including Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who said a full-year recession is not expected for now, and that there will be help for workers and businesses to cope with new challenges.

“For our companies, we must continue to transform so that we can attain Industry 4.0 standards,” said Mr Ng at an inter-racial and religious harmony street parade in Punggol Field Road.

“We must make use of, explore and exploit new technologies to move up the value chain, so that we can remain competitive.”

Mr Ng, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, noted that workers must redouble their efforts to learn new skills which can help them move up in their careers and keep up with the times.

One way to start, he said, is for individuals to use their SkillsFuture credits to learn about the digital economy. These credits are given to every adult Singaporean to be used for lifelong learning.

Mr Ng emphasised as well that the NTUC and Government stand ready to support companies and workers through this process of transformation.

At the event on Sunday, attended by over 10,000 residents in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC where Mr Ng is an MP, he also stressed the importance of everyone doing their part to maintain Singapore’s religious harmony.

Citing attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which targeted worshippers, he said Singaporeans should not take the current situation for granted.

“We should always do our part to ensure that we build towards an even more inclusive society,” he added, noting that Singapore, too, suffered racial riots in the 1950s and 1960s.

He said that Punggol has a strong community spirit that should be strengthened, and such a spirit gives Singaporeans the resilience to overcome situations of adversity.