Here’s a lookback at economic measures in past Budgets and how to ready yourself for the future
The Government Budget presented each year is not simply a plan to spend.
Behind the dollars and cents is a strategic plan to get Singapore to where we want to be in the future.
The Future Was Always Present in Past Budgets
Securing Singapore’s future is a recurrent theme in each Budget, even when we had to tackle more immediate challenges, especially during economic downturns.
When the global financial crisis hit Singapore in 2008, a Resilience Package was swiftly rolled out in the 2009 Budget to save jobs and help businesses stay afloat. We took the opportunity to retrain workers, invest in infrastructure, and encourage companies to innovate and remain competitive. Being forward-looking enabled Singapore to recover faster and emerge even stronger.
Each Budget provides an opportunity to review our economic measures and introduce new ones to grow the economy. Over the past decade, we made two major shifts in our economic agenda.
From Economic Restructuring to Industry Transformation
Productivity: The Next Driver of Economic Growth
As a small economy deeply plugged into the global market, Singapore has to remain nimble to changes.
Around the world, multinational companies are moving their operations to where conditions favour them. With digital technology and advanced logistics, local businesses find themselves even competing with international players without a presence in Singapore.
Given falling birth rates and an ageing population, our workforce is growing at a slower rate. At the same time, we do not want to be over-reliant on foreign labour.
Therefore, there is an acute need productive for the economy to remain competitive.
Singapore’s aim is to develop into an advanced economy driven by higher skills, productivity and innovation. Only then can the economy continue to grow and translate into higher incomes for Singaporeans in future.
2010 to 2015: Economic Restructuring
After the global financial crisis, the country embarked on a phase of economic restructuring to raise skills and productivity.
An Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) was set up to develop strategies for Singapore to maximize opportunities in a new world environment, and to achieve sustained and inclusive growth.
A central recommendation made by ESC was for the Government to provide strong support to the people by investing in education and training, so that individuals could upgrade their skills, capabilities and expertise, and move up the career ladder.
Another recommendation was to deepen firm capabilities to seize opportunities in Asia and to facilitate local firms to grow into industry leaders in Asia.
Through Budgets 2010 to 2015, the framework for economic restructuring was implemented with initiatives such as the National Productivity Fund, and the introduction or enhancement of comprehensive programmes, including the Workfare Training Scheme, Internationalisation Finance Scheme and Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation Scheme.
From 2016: Industry Transformation
In 2016, the broad-based economic restructuring agenda was sharpened and deepened, as Singapore moved onto the next phase of industry transformation.
The performance and challenges faced by different industries were uneven. Some had to overcome cyclical weaknesses while others were tackling structural shifts.
A broad Industry Transformation Programme was launched with a more targeted and sector-focused approach to help enterprises and industries move up the value chain through strategies such as innovation, internationalization, and deep capability development.
With differentiated roadmaps for the major industry sectors, the Industry Transformation Maps pull together existing restructuring efforts, fosters partnerships, encourages the use of technology, while supporting local enterprises to internationalise.
Beyond Basic Education to Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning
People: Our Most Valuable Resources
As industries transform, can the people match up to the new jobs and new skills required?
We have always invested heavily in education. Over the years, we built and upgraded schools, employed higher qualified teachers, and expanded our universities, polytechnics, and ITEs.
2008: Continuing Education and Training Masterplan
The old mantra of “study hard and find a good job” is inadequate. In an era of disruption, continual learning and training is necessary. We may need to learn new skills, retooling ourselves, and perhaps even enter new and emergent fields.
Recognising this, recent Budgets have progressively given more support for continuing education and training (CET) and more resources to train workers. Between 2008 and 2014, $2.4 billion was added to the Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund to support CET. In 2010, the Workfare Training Scheme was introduced to encourage older workers to upgrade their skills.
2015: SkillsFuture: Lifelong Learning for All
In the 2015 Budget, we took further steps and embarked on the next wave of investment in our people with SkillsFuture.
SkillsFuture signals to Singaporeans the importance of learning at every age of life and provides the opportunities to further ourselves to the fullest potential throughout life, regardless of starting points. For the country, it will develop deep skills and mastery in our workforce to take our economy to the next level.
Under this initiative, Singaporeans can access a range of programmes, tools, and support such as MySkillsFuture – an education, training and career guidance online portal, the SkillsFuture Study Awards, and the SkillsFuture Credit to deepen or widen their skills, so that everyone can learn continuously to stay relevant.
Staying Nimble and Ahead
Transforming our industries and strengthening the capabilities of our people are two important strategies to fuel future economic growth in Singapore.
With our sights set on long-term goals, each Budget provides resources to grow the economy, so that the country is in a better position to provide good jobs, better incomes, and a higher quality of life for all Singaporeans, even amidst an era of change.