DPM Heng Swee Keat at Lit Discovery 2021

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 27 July 2021

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at Lit Discovery 2021 on 27 July 2021.


Brother Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress

Sisters and Brothers of the Labour Movement 

And all our participants who are tuning in virtually

Good evening! 

I am very happy to join you at LIT DISCOvery 2021. 

LIT stands for “Learning is Triggered” – an apt description of this Symposium. 

It was only last year that I also learned that “LIT” means “awesome” to millennials. 

This shows that one can always learn new things in life! 

New Opportunities in a Post-COVID world

I am glad to be part of this Symposium again this year. 

When I took part last June, we were just out of the Circuit Breaker, and the global economy was in its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression. 

The situation remains volatile today, with new variants and new waves of infections everywhere around the world, including in Singapore. 

In the face of this uncertainty, I am glad that our workers and businesses have remained adaptable and resilient. It has not been easy, but we will continue to walk this journey with you. 

We are also making progress on vaccination, and hope to eventually move into an endemic phase where we learn to live with the virus. 

COVID-19 will eventually fade, but it has accelerated structural shifts that will stay with us for a long time. 

One new area of growth is in digitalisation, and in fact this virtual event is a great example of this digitalisation. It is affecting how we live, work, and play.

The pandemic has also given the world a wake-up call on the need to tackle complex challenges like sustainability.

We are in a region that is poised to ride on the wave of opportunities created by these new trends. 

In Southeast Asia, there is already a thriving start-up scene in the digital economy.

Many of you would be familiar with names such as Grab, Shopee, CARRO, Go-Jek, and Tokopedia. 

There is a lot more runway for growth given the favourable demographics in our region.

The digital economy is projected to grow three times by 2025.

Besides the digital economy, green growth in the region could provide up to $1.3 trillion in annual economic benefits by 2030.

This can be realised through greater investments in renewable energy and improved urban planning.

Singapore is well-placed to tap on these opportunities.

We are a “Global-Asia node” – a gateway for people around the world to explore opportunities in Asia, and we can also serve as a launchpad for those in Asia seeking to expand and grow into global markets. 

80 of the world’s top 100 technology firms have a sizable presence here - including fast-growing companies like Zoom, Twitter, Paypal, Tencent, Alibaba, and ByteDance.   

Singapore is also making a big push on sustainability through the Singapore Green Plan, and we want to develop a vibrant Green Economy which will bring new opportunities in areas such as sustainable finance.

How to access these new opportunities?

All these sound good – but I know many of you will be wondering: how do I access these opportunities?

This Symposium is a good start.

You can explore opportunities on the “virtual marketplace”, and tap on career profiling and other resources.

You can participate in panel discussions, and I am happy to hear that the Symposium this year has included dedicated sessions on growth sectors like FinTech and sustainability.

There are also mentoring sessions by industry professionals with regional working experiences.

I am also glad that there will be sessions on mental well-being, a particularly salient issue, in this second year of the pandemic.

I thank Young NTUC and your co-organising partners, the National Youth Council and SkillsFuture Singapore, and all other partners, for putting together this rich and thoughtful programme.

The work of NTUC goes beyond this Symposium. NTUC works closely with other tripartite partners to support our workers – by helping them to take on different roles in their companies, or switch to other firms or occupations.

This has been critical during this period, as many livelihoods have been disrupted.

Over the past year, NTUC facilitated 32,000 job placements through the Job Security Council and career fairs. 

The setting up of Company Training Committees is also a valuable effort to support companies to upskill their workers and transform their businesses.

I encourage our tripartite partners to keep up the good work.

In the growth areas of digital and sustainability, NTUC is strengthening the pathways to access opportunities in these areas.   

For example, NTUC is creating opportunities for youths interested in the digital and sustainability sectors to network and learn from mentors, and organising learning journeys to relevant companies in these sectors.

In addition, the Banking and Financial Services Union is also introducing a new program to provide training and coaching for those interested in banking and finance.

NTUC has come a long way since its founding 60 years ago. But its mission to support every worker has not changed. 

Our Labour Movement has gone from strength to strength, reinventing itself to stay current to labour trends and remain relevant to its members.

Membership has increased steadily over the years, even though the aspirations and needs of our workers continue to evolve.

By keeping pace with the ongoing structural shifts and the aspirations of our workers, I am confident that the Labour Movement can attract the next generation of workers into its fold.

COVID-19 has reminded us how important it is to have a strong Labour Movement and strong tripartism in Singapore.

As we seek to recover from the crisis, let us continue to work together, in tripartite partnership, to support every worker and improve their lives. Every worker matters.

The Future is Yours to Shape

This brings me to my next point. Ultimately, the future is in the hands of our youths to shape.

The world is changing at a rapid pace.

Just look at the list of top 10 companies in the Fortune 500 – more than half of these companies were not on this list just ten years ago.

The notion of lifelong employment is much less relevant today – it is lifelong employability that matters more. 

If you remain nimble, and are willing to learn new things along the way, you will be able to shape your own future.

We are here to fully support you – NTUC, the government, working together with your employers.

At the same time, do not feel pressured to go into any specific new area.

Whether it is new sectors or existing sectors, there are always exciting opportunities.

You should explore areas where you have the interest and inclination. This way, you are more likely to continue learning throughout your career, and more likely to succeed as you build deeper expertise and experience.

Don’t join a new field for the wrong reason because of FOMO, the fear of missing out. As there is sometimes also JOMO, the joy of missing out.

You may be already enjoying what you are already doing. If so, give it your best and develop true mastery over the skills in your chosen area. This way, I believe you will blossom, or as some of you like to say, “glow up”.

I am not a Millennial or Zoomer, but I learn something each time!

Whichever path you decide to take, bring with you a mindset of lifelong learning, explore the world with confidence, knowing that you can ultimately make a difference.

I hope today’s LIT DISCOvery will “trigger” this spirit of lifelong learning.

This way, I believe that your future will be LIT.


In conclusion, I hope that you will make the most of this Symposium to develop new connections, gain new insights, and forge new collaborations.

I wish all of you a very fruitful and “LIT” symposium. All the very best to you as you explore the world. Thank you.