If you think Singapore will be the way it is now in 10 years, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
We face disruptive game changers that question whether we are prepared to adapt, or doomed to fail.
Can Singaporeans rally together to turn these 14 scenarios into opportunities, or choose to stick to our status quo and watch the world go past?
- What if Stanford were accessible from every Internet café?
What if anyone with internet could obtain a legitimate degree from an Ivy League university with online learning? Will our universities become obsolete? Will Singaporeans face greater competition from lower wage, overseas workers?
Source: Train with Eti
- Will freelancers be preferred over employees?
Will companies prefer to hire freelancers who have more experience with a variety of projects, are easier to hire and let go than full time employees and don’t need standard employment benefits such annual leave, medical leave etc?
- Will there be too many degree holders?
With more degree holders in the world (especially with India and China), will companies still want to set up in Singapore? Or will they prefer to set up in another country where graduates are in ample supply? Will there be enough jobs for Singapore’s degree holders locally and overseas?
- Will my career be a series of random jobs?
With more instability in the world, companies may undergo relocations, restructurings and retrenchments more frequently. Singaporean careers may be more like a roller-coaster ride than climbing a corporate ladder.
Our wages may not be rising slowly, but go up and down, uncertain, unpredictable. This will affect our spending patterns such as home ownership as we lose confidence in stable, long term earnings.
- Will my job be replaced by robots?
Mayekawa Global has developed a chicken deboning machine which does away with human labour.
But PME jobs are also susceptible to robot replacements. Functional skills such as accounting, paralegal, finance and even marketing can be replaced by systems with programs using algorithms to predict and execute the best course of action.
Don’t laugh, the arts will not be spared either. There is a painting robot that is “more artistic” than the average person.
- Will my skills be irrelevant as the 3D printer catches on?
What if a 3D printer could print buildings? Or cakes? Or furniture?
The global manufacturing industry is changing. Traditionally we need to need to manufacture parts in bulk then assemble. But a 3D printer can print unique designs without the hassle of bulk manufacture and assembly.
What would designers, architects, engineers, craftsmen, welders, technicians and assembly-line workers do then?
- What if cars could drive themselves?
30% of our cars will be “intelligent” by 2019. Tesla and Google are testing Autonomous Vehicles (AV). Singapore’s AV are already being tested at One-North.
Will this spell the end of chauffeurs, taxi drivers and deliverymen?
- Who is watching you?
How will our society change with more citizen journalism and vigilantes? Will we be subject to hidden cameras and public monitoring by anyone on the street?
With more cameras in our devices and installed in our environment which are connected to a network, what if someone hacks into the network for insidious reasons?
- Will the elderly of the future be the next powerful political force?
The elderly of the future will be different: higher expectations, more politically active, tech savvy, more demanding. Older workers may want assured career advancement and more social security.
Will the future Singapore government have sufficient reserves and acuity of mind to manage the demands of our greying population with a smaller working population due to falling birth rates and land constraints?
- Will men experience gender inequality?
Women in the upper 30s earn more than male peers in service jobs. There are more women than men enrolled in tertiary education since 2007, more men in ITE and Singaporean males are set back by 2 years due to National Service.
In the future, will gender inequality be reversed if women outperform men at school and work?
- Will Singapore’s migrant workers leave for a better job elsewhere?
Our neighbouring countries are well positioned to take advantage of economic opportunities ahead.
What if our migrant workers decide to work in another country? What will we do if our current migrant labour sources dry up? Will our productivity be up to par to manage with fewer headcount?
- Changing demographics and psychographics
We will see shifting identities, in part promoted by interracial marriages, immigration and globalization.
The sense of belonging to a particular culture, identity, organization or community may be reduced.
Will our traditional structures be able to attract their target groups or will we see new communities emerging? Will our society be more polarized to the point of violent confrontation?
- “Sharing” economy
There will be more pay-per-use business models such as AirBNB, Uber, PageAdvisor and Fiverr. Will we see more self-employed Singaporeans who want to tap on their assets to make money? Do we need regulations to protect consumers?
- The site for New Singapore?
We have almost reached the limits of land reclamation. We are still developing underground spaces (e.g. Jurong rock cavern). There is a technology to create large settlements in the ocean but this won’t be available in the next 10 years.
What if ocean levels rise and decrease our land area? Do we have the ability to purchase land from other countries to resettle Singaporeans, build floating homes to house displaced residents just like those in Tonle Sap, Cambodia, or disperse wherever we can to live as nomads without a land to call our own?
These scenarios are just a sample of uncertainties we face as a young nation. Although we are preoccupied with short term concerns, we should remember that we face bigger challenges as a nation in the next 10 years.
What other scenarios do you predict we will encounter? Share with us at [email protected]