Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

TL;DR – The key is to stay ready, relevant and resilient.

Any kind of disruption can be annoying. It’s just like having an ad coming in, interrupting your playlist on Spotify. But the thing is, you know there is a solution for that – pay the Spotify Premium subscription.

Have you heard of this new form of disruption, called the “Career Disruption”?

When I read that MONEY FM 89.3 was organizing a symposium Spotlight: Career Disrupted, I knew I had to sign myself up for it.

Never mind it’s held on a Saturday morning (oooooh, my precious weekend), I wanted to know what sort of disruption they would talk about, and what we could do about it.

Amongst the speakers who graced the symposium were NTUC’s Assistant Secretary-General and Member of Parliament, Mr Patrick Tay, who shed insights about the future of work and how the Labour Movement can help workers.

Here’s the gist of things the Labour MP shared:

The key challenge of career disruption is structural unemployment

Wait wait, hang on…. What structural unemployment? Come on, we know jobs are plentiful on job portals, and we have people looking for jobs. How can there be unemployment?

Right. So there are jobs, there are people who are looking for jobs, but apparently, there is also a mismatch between the jobseekers’ skills and the skills that are in demand. So, there – that’s what structural unemployment is all about.

More often than not, structural unemployment is a form of involuntary unemployment and is often brought about by technological changes that make the job skills of many workers obsolete.

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Industrial revolution is nothing new

In fact, we are in the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, which is also known as the intelligent industry that focuses heavily on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.

And the difference between the fourth industrial revolution from the previous industrial revolution is that the fourth industrial revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country, creating massive change in a non-linear way at unprecedented, exponential speed.

Pretty scary, huh?

The robots are coming to change how we work

Like it or not, as Industry 4.0 continues to gather pace, it is expected that there will be a lot more technologies involved – whatever that will be robotized, mechanized and digitalized, it will be robotized, mechanized and digitalized. Then comes the question: Will I lose my job to the robots?

The answer is, unfortunately, yes.

But the good news is, despite the fact that some job roles will be gone, there will also be a lot of convergence and transformation of job roles, which essentially means more new jobs created in work places.

And there will be opportunities for humans to work with robots on smart technologies to create smart products too.

The workforce in Singapore is undergoing quite a big, massive change

Did you know that Singapore is already facing an ageing workforce and also a shrinking workforce? Talk about double jeopardy…

By 2030, every one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. It is inevitable that our workforce will be morphed and transformed in terms of aging population. There will also be more white collar workers, Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in general as Singapore’s population becomes better educated, and as the skills and level of competency increase amongst Singaporeans.

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Therefore, this also means there is a need to maximize and leverage on technology to help us manage our work better and make sure that we still can continue to stay productive.

The older you are, the more degrees you have, the more vulnerable you are

It’s quite ironic, I know, but that is exactly what Mr Patrick Tay said.

You see, the share of Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in the resident workforce today is about 57%, which is higher than the rank-and-file blue-collar workers. Which means to say that more than half of the Singaporeans in our workforce are vulnerable to job loss in the face of technological disruption.

And when a worker who is better paid gets dislocated, he or she might face difficulty rejoining the workforce – unless they continue to have the skills, abilities, and the agility.

There will be, increasingly, more workplace flexibility

Oh I like the sound of this!

According to Mr Patrick Tay, there will be a lot more coworking spaces sprouting up, not just in Singapore, but in the region and globally.

So, besides the nature of work, nature of workforce and the worker profiles, we can expect workplaces will, too, undergo transformation in the years to come.

In that case, what can I do and how can the Labour Movement help me?


Fortunately, all is not lost.

The Labour Movement, along with its tripartite partners, has started rolling out a series of interventions across the industries under the 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) to help strengthen the skills and competencies of Singaporeans.

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Beyond its tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), NTUC and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – the Labour Movement has also been working very closely with the trade associations, the polytechnics as well as the institutes of higher learning to create a good and effective ecosystem whereby everyone is kept in the loop of what’s happening in the industries, to the jobs and to work on navigating the workforce forward.

On top of that, the Labour Movement has also been sharing information from the Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST) analysis, in a very simple, easy-to-digest manner. This information helps Singaporean workers identify and predict new job opportunities in growing sectors, as well as the necessary skills and training to help them transit into new career opportunities.

This is a journey we all must take.

Whilst this journey is going to be an ever changing and going ever faster, the Labour MP urges everyone (including himself) to stay ready, relevant and resilient.

Ready with new skills, relevant for new jobs and resilient to the very rapid new changes that are happening.

Here’s a short clip of the event,


By Joey Wee

I am nice, most of the time!