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Soft skills are as important in Industry 4.0: Education Minister Lawrence Wong

13 Oct 2020

Don’t forget the soft skills – that was the clarion call from Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education, at the inaugural SG Future Forum, organised by SIM’s student club Singapore Affairs Society (SAS), on 23 September 2020 at the SIM Performing Arts Theatre.

Themed ‘Industry 4.0 – Surf the Wave of Change’, the forum aimed to provide insights into how youths can better prepare themselves to ride the wave of the fourth industrial revolution and digitalisation which has transformed the way we live, work and play. Mr Wong stressed that there is a premium on certain human strengths which machines and robots cannot replicate. “These are soft skills – the ability to build relationships with one another, to work in teams effectively, to be able to brainstorm and challenge each other face-to-face, and then to forge consensus and develop better solutions together…many people don’t do it well,” he said.

Mr Wong also urged students and young graduates to embrace learning as a personal habit and an integral part of their life. He said that learning is not just about accumulating credentials and paper qualifications; it is also a whole mindset that requires a spirit of curiosity.


Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education, at the inaugural SG Future Forum
Minister Wong reminded fresh graduates who are entering the workforce that they are not alone in their journey.
The Government is supporting them by growing their skills with traineeships and SkillsFuture.


Mr Seah Chin Siong, President and Chief Executive Officer, SIM, also stressed on the importance of lifelong learning. He shared how SIM is helping to equip its learners with the right skills for staying relevant throughout a career that will need to evolve as the world changes.

SIM recently came on board the Government’s SGUnited Skills programme to help job seekers impacted by the pandemic to acquire new and specialised skills for the advanced manufacturing sector. SIM also partnered RMIT Online to launch a series of industry-designed, skills-based online courses in areas such as artificial intelligence, agile project management and digital marketing, as well as developed a skills framework on design, agile and systems thinking. Many of its courses are also micro-credentialed, meaning they are recognised by employers and certified and stackable to a qualification. Micro-credentials will be the new currency for keeping up-to-date and competitive with the latest in-demand skill sets.

The event continued with a lively panel discussion participated by industry leaders Mr Howie Lau, Assistant Chief Executive (Media & Innovation), Infocomm Media Development Authority; Mr Chia Hock Lai, President, Singapore FinTech Association; and Mr David Yeo, Chairman and CEO, Kydon Group, together with Mr Wong and Mr Seah.

Moderated by Dr Felix Tan, Associate Lecturer, SIM Global Education, the panel discussed topics from becoming a business owner to being agile in a fast changing environment. Aspiring entrepreneurs among the young audience were advised to first research on the job to be done instead of jumping immediately to the technology, and to have the commitment and discipline to follow through their ideas. The mantra ‘go deep and think big’ is key to starting a business successfully, especially with a small local market but huge opportunities in Asia.

On being agile, the panel believed that our youths are digitally savvy, willing to try out new things and would be able to thrive in an uncertain world. However, they need to learn how to challenge issues and speak up more. Employers are also urged to create a safe space at work for questions to be raised. 

Students and fresh graduates also asked how they can improve their employability. The panel stressed that while it is crucial to have the relevant skill sets and knowledge, they should also be bold, self-motivated and adaptable. Having the right attitude, mindset and even ‘heartset’ – the passion and self-belief – are equally important.   

Mr David Yeo, Mr Chia Hock Lai, Mr Seah Chin Siong, Mr Lawrence Wong and Mr Howie Lau had an engaging discussion at the inaugural SG Future Forum
(From left to right) Mr David Yeo, Mr Chia Hock Lai, Mr Seah Chin Siong, Mr Lawrence Wong and Mr Howie Lau had an engaging discussion with moderator Dr Felix Tan on how individuals and businesses can transform themselves to leverage the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.


The organiser SAS is one of 80 student clubs at SIM Global Education founded in January 2020 to inspire active citizenry among the student community by initiating conversations on topics that have an impact on youths and society.

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