The Singapore Budget announcements this year signal a decisive shift from COVID-19 exigencies towards bolstering Singapore’s long-term economic growth.

The Singapore government’s forward-looking initiatives such as the S$200 million investment in various schemes including the Advanced Digital Solutions scheme, Grow Digital scheme and TechSkills Accelerator will be crucial to support businesses as they build new capabilities to ride the winds of change in today’s digital-first economy.

The people aspect and its potential impact on economic output is an important area of focus. Our nation’s continued commitment to talent development through enhancements in the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit scheme will go a long way in dealing with a looming manpower crunch.

Data skills belong on everyone’s resume

The ability to understand data and turn insights into outcomes isn’t a math skill – it is a life skill.  Critically, the view of “non-IT roles” not requiring data skills needs to be debunked. It doesn’t mean that everyone requires the advanced capabilities of a data scientist or an engineer – it means that everybody has to comprehend and utilize data in any role they are playing.

No job of the future is exempt from digitalization and every function – from sales and marketing to HR and finance – must be equipped with the data skills to tackle tomorrow’s tough questions and drive efficiencies.

After all, while employees are responsible for owning their career paths, it is supported by line managers, and enabled by company-wide initiatives.

It takes a team to upskill a nation

No one single individual or business can meet the need for upskilling on a national level alone. It will require strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders – academics, policy makers, and business leaders – working together, each with a unique role to play.

The government needs to provide equal pathways for Singaporeans to access skilling programs, academics to provide guidance around vocational training that’s geared to future skill needs, and for business leaders to guide skilling programs based on the changing needs of their industries.

The positive correlation between economic optimism and building a data literate workforce is clear. Education must keep up with the technology-driven changes in skills. And the time to act is now.