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Automation can help drive productivity and complement tight labour market

Dr Chong Yoke Sin, TechSkills Accelerator Committee Chairman, Singapore Computer Society | July 13, 2016
By integrating automation into business operatives, we are inching towards a less labour intensive, but more productive, economic landscape.

A variety of retraining platforms

Despite the capabilities of machines, people are ultimately an organisation's most valuable asset. Hence, supporting workers through periods of rapid technological change and encouraging life-long learning should be encouraged alongside the introduction of machines in the pursuit for productivity. By enabling employees to learn new skills and enquire new knowledge, will ensure they will not be replaced by machines but be able to benefit from the evolving workplace environment.

The SkillsFuture initiative is one of the many platforms that allow Singaporeans to reskill and retrain. Aside from personal growth, the initiative will spur Singaporeans to attain skills mastery and remain relevant in our field of work and industry. For example, one can easily sign up for modular courses on data analytics or basic coding to better understand how applications or AI functions. In this way, instead of being displaced by these agents, one can now operate them and work beside them. Singapore Computer Society runs several interest groups and conducts breakfast talks on robotics, drones and automation. Such platforms allow like-minded individuals to interact with each other and exchange meaningful discussions and conversations on trending topics, and enables skill sets that help workers adapt to the evolving landscape.


The various industries in our economy are undergoing transformation - organisations are rightfully leveraging technology to streamline business operations to achieve sustainability and greater efficiency.  The government, industry associations and the private sector are moving up the economic ladder by delivering value-added services and by embracing technological innovation. New technologies are developed and deployed to drive higher productivity in a tight labour market and robotics technology, APIs and machines will be, and are already, in use to complement human activities.

Whether or not your company employs an ad-hoc autonomous agent or completely digitises its business operations, it pays to plan ahead and keep yourself up to date with the latest technological advancements. Continuous education and learning are critical success factors in enhancing one's employability in a digital economy. Relevant skills upgrading and retraining courses will ensure workers remain at the forefront of the digital economy.

From an organisation's perspective, it should explore how they can use autonomous objects and agents to supplement human productivity and free people for work that requires a human touch, EQ, and rationale. Additionally, they can work with other professional bodies, such as the Singapore Computer Society, to enhance the capability and professional standing of their employees.

Leveraging technology to drive automation, coupled with extensive education and certification, can help raise the overall productivity in an organisation and mitigate the effects of a tight labour market here in Singapore. 


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