09/15/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/15/2021 01:44
Mr Roland Ng, President, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,1. Good morning. I am pleased to address you at this year's SME Infocomm Commerce Conference Series opening.2. The SMEICC continues to be a valuable platform for SMEs to exchange views, and share ideas on how we can navigate an ever-evolving business landscape.3. It has been a challenging period for our SMEs, which have battled many headwinds caused by the pandemic in the past year-and-a-half. In addition to the constant business disruption, COVID-19 has forced companies to re-think their business models, and find innovative ways to engage partners and consumers.4. The theme, 'FIT for Future: Re-set. Re-balance. Re-newal' is timely. As the saying goes, 'Life is a marathon, not a sprint'. The same applies to businesses. Transformation and innovation are crucial for SMEs to remain competitive and resilient in the long term.5. Let me share some thoughts on how SMEs can become fighting-fit for the future.
Re-set our perspective: No longer business-as-usual, but capturing new opportunities6. First, we should reset our perspective. Living in a world that has been disrupted by the pandemic means that there is no returning to a pre-COVID world. Instead, the pandemic has created an opportunity for change.7. The Singapore government has outlined ambitious and optimistic plans for the future of our economy.a. In May 2020, we established the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, which envisions the Singapore economy as one that offers limitless possibilities and opportunities for our businesses and people. These include tapping on new areas of growth, such as:
Re-balance business priorities: Develop people alongside business transformation
11. In order to better capture these opportunities, we also need to nurture our people and develop a future-ready workforce to ensure business sustainability in the long run.12. People are at the core of our business. We need to equip them with the right skills to take on new or redesigned job scopes to meet future demands.a. This could include upgrading digital skills in new technology platforms or programming software, enhancing business development skills to expand into new markets, or understanding new sectors in sustainability development and research.13. When we invest in our people and give them the tools to succeed, we not only create a more motivated and resilient workforce that will stay with us in the long term, but also ensure that our businesses remain competitive and primed for success.14. The Singapore government has in place a suite of measures to support business transformation and help companies upskill and re-skill their workforce, from new entrants to mid-career individuals and business leaders.a. The Enhanced Training Support for SMEsprovides subsidies for companies to sponsor its employees to attend training courses funded by SkillsFuture Singapore, at up to 80% of course fees. Businesses can also leverage the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit to invest in their workforce development alongside wider business transformation.b. For business leaders, the Enterprise Leadership for Transformationsupports leaders from promising SMEs to develop their business growth capabilities. Participants will be guided by a network of partners, including Institutes of Higher Learning, financial institutions, and industry experts throughout the process.15. At this year's National Day Rally, PM Lee also outlined the need to ensure inclusive growth for all Singaporeans.a. The government will do our part. The expansion of the Progressive Wage Model reflects our commitment to grow wages in line with productivity.b. We will also provide transitional support for businesses during this adjustment period, to cushion the impact on business costs. We will all need to play our part to prepare our people well for the future, so that our society and business can recover from Covid-19 and succeed together.
Re-new our commitment to stay open and connected with international partners
16. Lastly, we should remain outward-looking and stay engaged with the global economy. As business people, you need no convincing of this. In fact, you have managed to successfully connect with your partners and consumers through innovative and virtual means during the pandemic.17. However, we recognise that relationships cannot always remain online, and some businesses need to be done face-to-face. As Singapore transitions to living with COVID-19, we are looking to ease our border restrictions to facilitate business and international travel, and regain our air and maritime connectivity.a. Singapore recently announced the launch of vaccinated travel lanes with Germany and Brunei, which will allow fully vaccinated people to travel and do business more freely, without the need for quarantine. As vaccination rates continue to rise, we hope to expand this to many more countries. b. Businesses can prepare for re-opening by doing two things: one, encourage your employees and family members to get vaccinated if they have not already done so, especially if they are working on the frontlines or require frequent travel. And two, implement frequent testing of employees, which would help detect cases early and prevent significant business disruption.18. As we make these adjustments and steadily re-open our borders, Singapore will be able to re-assert our position and renew our significance as a business, travel, and talent hub.
19. In closing, I would like to thank SCCCI, not only for organising the SMEICC every year to help our SMEs, but also for their efforts in helping the business community ride out a challenging and unprecedented pandemic.20. As I mentioned at the start, sustaining a business is a marathon, and these are particularly difficult times. But if we change our perspective to proactively identify new growth opportunities, prioritise the development of our people, and renew our efforts to engage the global economy, I am confident we will do well in a post-pandemic world.21. I note that this year's SMEICC will be spread out over three months, with 20 virtual sessions and 60 speakers across business, academic and government sectors. I encourage everyone to participate actively, keep informed of latest trends, and harness insights from other leaders and experts that will help your business thrive.22. I wish all of you a successful and meaningful conference. Thank you.