Entrepreneur Izzat Mohd Ismail studied multimedia but found himself venturing into the education sector to start an e-learning company in 1998 when he spotted a business opportunity.
Now, a committee tasked with preparing Singaporeans for future jobs is hoping to tap their personal experiences to help cultivate entrepreneurship and develop the skills and talent needed by sectors of the economy that are expanding and hiring.
Co-chaired by Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Singtel chief executive (group enterprise) Bill Chang, the Future Jobs and Skills sub-committee will study some of these issues following a first round of discussions at the Singapore University of Technology and Design yesterday.
The sub-group, one of the five under the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) led by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, was formed last month to recommend ways to prepare Singaporean workers for the future, taking into account demographic and technological trends.
Other key themes addressed by the CFE are: future growth industries and markets; corporate capabilities and innovation; urban development and infrastructure; and connectivity. The CFE is aiming to complete its work by the end of this year.
PREPPING FOR THE FUTURE
We believe in the medium to long term that there are plenty of opportunities in terms of jobs creation. New skills are required, and these are areas that we have to dive deeply into in our next meeting.
ACTING EDUCATION MINISTER ONG YE KUNG, on the task ahead for the Future Jobs and Skills sub-committee
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Ong said the committee - made up of 17 members from the public and private sectors, including the two co-chairs - was designed to include a handful of people, including Mr Izzat and Ms Chong, who have made drastic changes in their careers.
The fact that jobs are changing is a significant issue to tackle and grapple with in time to come, said Mr Ong.
Singaporeans must be prepared to seize the many jobs and opportunities that exist in the region and beyond, Mr Ong noted.
Within the country itself, the right skills need to be developed so that expanding sectors such as IT, telecommunications, healthcare and aviation can find people with the deep skills needed.
The launch of the $19 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan in January also creates exciting research and entrepreneurial opportunities for people, young or old, added Mr Ong.
"All in all, we believe in the medium to long term that there are plenty of opportunities in terms of jobs creation. New skills are required, and these are areas that we have to dive deeply into in our next meeting," said Mr Ong.
The Future City sub-committee, co-chaired by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong and PSA International group chief executive Tan Chong Meng, also held its first meeting yesterday.
Broad areas being studied by the Future City sub-committee include strategies to achieve more flexibility and better integration across different users of land; increased mobility options for individuals and companies; and the promotion of greater community participation in the management of spaces. The committee also discussed new technologies that can offer new solutions to resource constraints.
The Future Jobs and Skills sub-committee will meet again next month.
Both sub-groups will be reaching out to the public for feedback and ideas for the CFE, which is expected to meet every three months.