Singapore and Australia inked a comprehensive strategic partnership – the first such partnership between Singapore and another country yesterday. One of the areas of focus for the new pact – Project 2025, is on Trade and Economics, which is linked to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by Singapore and Australia in 2003 and was last reviewed in 2011.
The agreement covers the trade in goods and trade in services such as telecommunications and financial services, movement of business persons, government procurement, intellectual property rights, competition policy, e-commerce and education cooperation.
Under Project 2025, there will be plans to review the existing FTA.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has shared that the review of the existing Singapore-Australia FTA will look at making the agreement more “business friendly”, increase the mobility of professionals, and facilitating business opportunities for Singaporean businesses in resource-rich Northern Australia.
While all these generates more trade and business opportunities, what does it mean for the workers of Singapore?
Getting ready for tomorrow
All these means that Singaporeans should consider renewing their skills to keep up with the changes. And by skills, I’m not just referring to professional skills or technological skills but soft-skills such as people to people relations, adapting to different environments etc. This allows one to be adaptable to make sure he or she is able to work in a foreign country.
This also brings another question: how should a professional compete with a prospective foreign job seeker who is hoping to be able to find a job here in Singapore? By competing in knowledge, productivity and quality of skills.
Undoubtedly, the FTA has also allowed foreign workers, such as those from Australia in this case, to work here in Singapore. But with an in-depth knowledge of a particular industry and the right skills, Singaporean workers can get good jobs here in Singapore too.
The Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Report for the 1st Quarter of 2015 showed a larger proportion of PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) being made redundant while 1 in 3 unemployed are degree holders.
Perhaps the only way to be employable in such a job climate is to be ready for it. And one way is to heed the Government’s call to be future-ready through the SkillsFuture programme which was introduced during Singapore’s Budget 2015 announcement.
“I want to see, as time goes by, Australians and Singaporeans with the same kind of work and residency situation in our two countries that Australians and New Zealanders have long had.”
– Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
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