Singapore well-placed to attract global talent: Singapore Perspectives conference panellists

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SINGAPORE - In a world where working remotely has become more commonplace, making it easier for people to relocate, cities like Singapore, which offer not just a good business environment but also quality of life, will have a competitive edge in attracting global talent.

But while the mobility of the global workforce allows Singapore to compete for talent in a way that was not possible before, this could also worsen inequality, said panellists at the Singapore Perspectives conference on Monday (Jan 17).

That is why the pursuit of economic achievement must happen in tandem with improvements in other social dimensions, they added.

Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser, Ministry of Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Gabriel Lim and Landfall Strategy Group founding director David Skilling were speaking at the "City as Economic Spaces" session on the challenges and opportunities that Singapore faces in its ongoing urban economic development.

While cities emptied out in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and social restrictions have altered the way people work and live, these changes will not add up to cities and offices becoming obsolete as predicted by some, said Profe Glaeser in recorded remarks.

"In a world of information intensity, we get smart by being around other smart people, we get creative by being around other smart people," he added.

In fact, technology such as Zoom will not kill off cities, but has given people more choices in terms of where they want to live, increasing competition for global talent.

And with human capital key to a city's success, the question is whether Singapore can reinvent itself to become the best place for people who can work anywhere to live, work and play, said Mr Lim.

He acknowledged the sensitivity that might arise from this talent policy, noting that people around the world have become anxious from competition.

To assuage these concerns, the Government is adjusting its manpower policies to strike a balance between openness and assurance for workers, as well as strengthening institutional support to help people upgrade, such as through the SG United Jobs and Skills programme, he said.

He added that the Government is also paying special attention to social support and community care for those who are less skilled and more vulnerable.

"I want to assure...members of the public that we are not just these ...

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