Published Date: 23 April 2019

"Future of Finance Jobs" - Keynote Address by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower at IBF Careers Connect Visit on 23 April 2019

Mr Ravi Menon,
Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Chairman, Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

1.     Last week, at the Manpower Ministry’s Workplan Seminar, I had touched on the idea of career mobility because it matters to Singaporeans.

2.     When it comes to our careers:

  • Most Singaporeans want the opportunity to learn, to grow and to be recognised.
  • Few will want to stay in the same spot forever.

Career Mobility At Any Age

3.     If students could have multiple pathways to advance while in education, it is equally, if not more important that working people have rewarding ways to move forward in their careers.

  • After all, our adult working lives will span several multiples of the years we spend in formal education.

4.     Everyone has aspirations. 

  • It doesn’t matter if you are 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 years old
  • It doesn’t matter the qualifications you hold
  • At different points of our lives, our needs may change
  • And so, what we want out of our careers will also change. 

5.     I want to say a little bit about how the Ministry of Manpower will support Singaporeans so that they can keep making progress in their careers, whatever their starting points, and at different stages of their lives.
6.     Ravi has already put it very well – skills are the engine that will propel career mobility, both upwards and laterally. We will have more to say about that later.

Supporting Senior Employment

7.     Let me focus your attention on one group that most of us are acutely aware of – in both the global and Singapore context –  and that is our seniors. They are a growing group in our population and our workforce. About 1 in 3 employed residents today is aged 50 and above.

8.     For older workers, career mobility would mean being able to:

  • Continue working if they want to
  • Have the option of less intensive work
  • Get help if they need to take on new job roles
  • Build up more retirement savings for the eventual retirement.

9.     Jobs matter to our seniors. This is why, last year, I formed the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers.

  • Already, more seniors are employed in Singapore.
  • Their unemployment rate is also lower.
  • But we do have room for improvement, especially when compared to some OECD countries

10.     One of the policy adjustments that has helped is re-employment.

  • Singapore is one of only 2 countries in the world
  • Together with Japan
  • That has the concept of re-employment.

11.     It is a concept that has worked well for us,

  • Every year, when our workers reach the minimum statutory retirement age of 62, vast majority of those eligible and who want to continue working are offered re-employment. Most are re-employed in the same job with the same pay, even though the law allows for the terms of employment to be reset.
  • In other words, re-employment helps most seniors who wish to continue working, stay in employment well past the age 62. 
  • As a result, the percentage of seniors aged 60-69 who are in employment has grown from 38% a decade ago to 53% today. A 15 percentage point improvement over the course of 10 years – quite significant.

12.     We sometime hear calls, from learned professors and think-tanks even, for the retirement age to be removed.

  • Our labour MPs know this would be a mistake.
  • Instead of allowing people to work as long as they wish, it would mean employers have no obligation to keep their staff to any age.
  • Anti age-discrimination laws too can produce unintended effects.
  • Imagine how many employers will be deterred from hiring seniors if the law says they must be allowed to work for as long as they wish?
  • Our approach in Singapore, where there is a Retirement Age (RA) and Re-employment Age (REA), is a practical one that balances the needs of employers and workers. 
  • As a result, our employment rates for seniors are higher than some countries that have these laws.

13.     In fact, the Tripartite Workgroup

  • comprising representatives from employers, workers and the government
  • reaffirmed the relevance of both the RA and REA. 
  • They say, “both are still relevant, please keep them”.

14.     They also agree

  • To raise the Retirement Age beyond 62 and the Re-Employment Age beyond 67
  • More details on how far and how fast the RA and REA should be raised
  • To be provided in a few months

15.     In the meantime, we will continue to support senior employment.

  • Through schemes Like WorkPro and the Special Employment Credit
  • The objective is that even while a person has reached their 60s there is still room for us to improve the career mobility of our seniors and make them more employable.
  • It is good for the individual, it is good for businesses and overall, good for our entire society.

Walking the Tech Journey with Our Workers

16.     Let me now turn to another group whose career mobility matter

  • These are workers who are afraid that their jobs, being routine and repetitive, can also be performed by robots which will soon replace them.
  • They include our PMETs, or white collar workers, who also worry
  • Even though the number of PMETs retrenched has been falling, and is the lowest since 2014
  • And PMET vacancies now exceed 30,000

17.     What do we know about the impact of technology on jobs?

  • We know that there will be job creation and there will be some job disruptions. But as Ravi reminded us, it is the transformation that matters most. Whether it is in new jobs or existing ones, the job requirements will be transformed by technology.
  • Instead of replacing workers with technology, employers may now require workers to use technology more
  • And unless our workers can adapt, their careers may indeed come to a standstill. 

18.     The direction is clear, we can and must help workers avoid this. In this regard, Workforce Singapore offers targeted support through the Adapt and Grow initiative.

19.     Last year, A&G helped more than 30,000 jobseekers move into new jobs.

  • More than half were PMETs.
  • Nearly one in three above the age of 50

20.     In particular, through Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs)

  • Close to 5,000 people were re-skilled and employed
  • An increase of over 30% compared to 2017

21.     Most of the PCP participants do well.

  • About two-thirds were recognised for their newly acquired skills, and
  • Received higher wages than before

22.     In essence, the Adapt and Grow initiative is career mobility in action.

  • It helps people extend their career runways
  • Through taking on new job roles

Technological Transformation in Financial Services

23.     The more our industries are transformed by technology,

  • the faster the job roles change
  • and the bigger the opportunity for Singaporeans to ride the wave.

24.     The financial services sector is one where transformation brings enormous opportunities.

  • That’s why companies are investing billions in new technology capabilities
  • To enhance competitive positioning and operating efficiencies.  
  • As a result, few job roles, if any, will remain unchanged.

25.     But rapid changes of job roles can also be disconcerting.

  • It means many people entering into unfamiliar territory.
  • In such a situation, a roadmap is essential   

A Roadmap to Chart Tech-Enabled Career Pathways in Finance Services

26.     This is why the study commissioned by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is so useful.

  • Instead of talking about technology in general terms, the study zoomed in on data analytics and automation. The two technologies that are mostly likely to impact jobs in the immediate future.
  • Instead of looking at a distant horizon, where predictions are nearly impossible to get right, the study focussed on the immediate 3-5 years.

27.     The study assessed the impact of DA and automation

  • On 121 job roles
  • Covering more than 90 per cent of jobs in the financial sector
  • Most comprehensive study to date

28.     I thumbed through the report – it’s quite thick but there’s a lot of good stuff 

29.     In summary, this is as detailed a roadmap as you can get right now

  • It tells you what destination you can try to get to
  • With clear sign-posting on how to get started and which potholes to avoid
  • For nearly everyone in the Finance sector

30.     It’s not just individuals who should pay attention; this study is just as valuable to another group in the financial services and that is the CHROs. I think the whole c-suite should also sit up

  • The roadmap is an essential tool for workforce planning
  • And if you fail to plan, you must plan to fail
  • If you are planning for business transformation, also plan for workforce transformation.
  • The dominant strategy for many financial services firms has been to go out and hire at top dollar.
  • But if this your primary response to the tech challenge, I’m afraid you will soon hit roadblocks. 

31.     Demand for tech skills will grow much faster than supply

  • If HR plans to help the company succeed, I suggest you “build and not just buy.”
  • Do some serious workforce planning
  • Know your gaps
  • Build systematically and buy selectively
  • You are more likely to win the race this way

A new pathway – TFIP provides access to tech-jobs in finance

32.     To sum up, in this era of technology-driven transformation

  • Helping our people become tech-enabled is essential
  • It is not just for people to achieve career mobility throughout life
  • But also a smart business move to get ahead
  • In other words, employers and employees should walk the tech journey together

33.     We have started and the progress is encouraging.

  • In 2018, more than 20,000 individuals went through MAS/IBF supported upskilling programmes.
  • Financial institutions have committed to reskill close to 4,000 finance professionals and redeploy them in new or expanded jobs over the next two years.
  • 1,700 have started on this journey, of which 800 have successfully transited into new roles.

34.     Collectively,

  • We will make more roadmaps available
  • Like the study being released today

35.     With each step of the journey

  • We may also discover new pathways
  • And make these accessible

36.     A good example is Technology in Finance Immersion Programme (TFIP), which we’re launching today.

  • TFIP is designed to provide mid-career professionals the opportunity to take up tech jobs that are opening up in the financial sectors
  • You don’t need to be in tech-job already
  • Nor do you need to have a financial services background
  • But you do need to be willing to invest the time to learn new skills

37.     Put another way, this specially curated programme

  • is a new pathway
  • to help more Singaporeans access new job opportunities 
  • and enjoy improved career mobility

38.     For this first run of TFIP

  • Seven financial institutions have come out in strong support
  • Committed to offer more than 70 places across the different domains
  • I would like to acknowledge the industry for prioritising workforce transformation alongside digital transformation efforts.

39.     Because workforce transformation takes time and effort, I am hopeful for Singapore.

  • It means our competitors will also need time and effort.
  • So, the sooner we start
  • the faster we move
  • the tighter our coordination
  • The more likely we can all walk the tech journey together successfully.

40.     In conclusion, this journey of transformation can also be a journey of growth for our businesses and people alike. 

41.     I can’t wait for everyone to get started.  Thank you.