Firms must collaborate, innovate and adapt to emerge stronger: DPM Heng Swee Keat

SINGAPORE – Firms must collaborate with workers, the Government and the labour movement to emerge stronger in a complex, volatile post-Covid world, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

He told a webinar on the Budget: “More than ever before, recovering from this crisis and growing our economy will have to be a tripartite effort.

“We must pull together our collective strengths and resources to ride the winds of change and waves of opportunities.”

This can entail firms strengthening collaboration and forging new partnerships through initiatives like the Open Innovation Platform, which matches private and public-sector problems with solution providers.

Mr Heng also noted in a Facebook post that he had the same dialogue a year ago, when the pandemic was still rapidly unfolding.

“The situation has stabilised. Many businesses have adapted, although the path to recovery is highly uneven across sectors. What is clear is that there is no going back to pre-Covid,” he said.

This is why the Budget’s central focus is on emerging stronger through adapting, innovation and growth, he added.

He said at Tuesday’s (March 9) dialogue organised by the Singapore Business Federation and the Singapore National Employers Federation: “To adapt, we will need to keep abreast of the structural shifts that are under way.

“Covid-19 has further accelerated some of these shifts, especially the pace of digitalisation. We will enable you to participate in the digital economy, so that no one is left behind by the forces of disruptive technologies.”

Firms can use emerging technologies to turn digital disruption into opportunities, he said. They can also enable workers to thrive in the digital world through job redesign, and kick-start the digital transformation journey.

He added that innovation is key to creating new value and remaining competitive, noting that the Government will continue to nurture start-ups, while helping larger companies through corporate venturing.

It will also connect firms to innovation nodes around the world, by expanding networks and supporting cross-border partnerships.

“Through adapting and innovating, I am confident that more of you will grow. You can make the best of opportunities, especially as the economy recovers.”

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Companies must also put workers at the heart of their transformation efforts as they grow, he added.

“As you transform, you can create better jobs and prospects for your workers, and upskill them to take on these new roles… The fortunes of businesses and workers are intertwined. Investing in your people will ultimately benefit your businesses in the longer-term.”

Mr Heng also encouraged businesses to give back to the community, citing those that returned their Jobs Support Scheme support or shared it with their workers.

He said: “We have so far put the worst of the crisis behind us.

“But I hope you will do more than just cope. Instead, you can make full use of the support provided to shift your focus towards emerging stronger.”

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