Singapore Budget 2024 consolidates skills-based economy

Employees will be given more opportunities to upskill and reskill, while investment in technologies such as AI will drive new innovation capabilities.
By: | February 20, 2024

With the announcement of Budget 2024, Singapore’s priorities in 2024 include a focus on upskilling and reskilling employees who have been involuntarily fired from work, as well as keeping current employees viable employed in the years to come.

Initiatives announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong include the overhaul of the current SkillsFuture programme, which will see the introduction of a new SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme aimed at supporting mid-career employees.

As announced by Wong, who is also Singapore’s Finance Minister, all Singaporeans aged 40 will receive a SG$4,000 (US$2,971) SkillsFuture credit top-up in May, meant for selected training programmes that push for part-time and full-time diplomas, post-diplomas, undergraduate courses, and training for sectors adhering to the Progressive Wage Model.

Beyond addressing immediate business needs, upskilling and growing talent is important in ensuring the workforce remains competitive. That is why these initiatives are particularly timely and encouraging, suggested Pannie Sia, General Manager, ASEAN, Workday.

She added, “Encouraging businesses to enhance the digital skills of their workforce will create a labour force adept at navigating the evolving technological landscape. The greater support for upskilling aligns seamlessly with the broader strategy of cultivating a skills-based economy.”

The pursuit of a skills-based economy, as described by Sia, requires substantial investment in the leverage of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in training programmes. With Wong’s unveiling of a push for investing more than SG$11 billion (US$8.18 billion) into national research and development (R&D) efforts, as well as the AI, finance and clean energy sectors, Sia believes this signals Singapore’s commitment to harnessing the transformative power of AI to amplify Singapore’s innovation capabilities. It will also attract top-tier talent and foster a collaborative environment that cultivates cutting-edge ideas, she opined.

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“Such technologies will serve as catalysts for economic growth, fuelling innovation and efficiency gains across diverse sectors,” she said, adding that the focus would ensure Singapore’s prominence in technological advancements, strengthening its position as an attractive hub for businesses and talent.