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Speech at the Opening Ceremony of “Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP)”, 1 Hall@Singapore Expo, 22 November 2021


Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you present here, as well as to those joining virtually.

Walking in this morning, I could already feel the buzz and excitement around. The feeling of being in a physical event space such as this is quite remarkable. Being here today with a full crowd gives a sense of newness and excitement.

It makes me tempted to speak about entering a post-pandemic world.

But I think we will wait cautiously a couple more months until things pick up.

Some may think that the pandemic threw a spanner in the works.

But being in Singapore for the past year has shown me how the pandemic has in fact turbo charged industrial transformation, especially in the digital realm.

Companies around the world, faced with unprecedented setbacks, had to realign and rethink business strategies and models in order to continue to be relevant to the economy.

This is the first point that I would like to make.

The pandemic has shown us that there is no alternative to digital transformation.

In this past year alone, Industry 4.0 saw its biggest leaps and bounds. Manufacturers such as you have dealt with a lot of change.

Border closures meant that entire supply chains had to be reconfigured. Safe distancing regulations meant that even in the physical space, workplace practices and employee roles have had to evolve.

Many of you here today have been the solution-providers during the pandemic that equipped manufacturers with the expertise and knowledge to transform, adapt and rebuild better.

This leads me to my second point.

As many have also experienced, industrial transformation must go hand in hand with a fully-equipped and skilled workforce.

It is therefore no surprise that ITAP this year also covers the element of workforce transformation.

As solution-providers experiencing the quantum strides of digitalization, we should not forget the human element behind our industries.

We must ensure that the skills gap in the manufacturing sectors continues to be addressed so that the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms are well-balanced.

The last point that I would like to highlight is the depth of potential that Germany and Singapore share in this field.

Particularly in the areas of skills development and the sharing of technological-expertise, I see Germany and Singapore making strides.

Singapore’s SkillsFuture programme plays a key role in ensuring its economy and workforce continuing to adapt to the Digital Age especially during this pandemic.

Such training facilities add value to initiatives like Singapore’s Industry Connect Office and the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (AMTA).

They keep the industry resilient and adaptable.

Likewise for some time now, German businesses have experienced the benefits of a dual track training program for its junior workforce called “Duale Ausbildung”.

This effective tool combines simultaneous on-the-job training with theoretical knowledge.

It thereby sets the basis for a flexible workforce able to adapt smoothly to an ever changing working environment.

Just a week ago I attended the inauguration of Siemens’ Advance Manufacturing Transformation Centre (AMTC).

This is an excellent example for a holistic approach to exploiting the full potential of Industry 4.0.

Siemens’ Transformation Centre provides guidance, support and training to manufacturing facilities on their journey of adoption, transition and transformation in advance manufacturing.

Such companies harness the potential of the future of advanced manufacturing. And they demonstrate why the German economy’s core strength is in this very industry.

I will therefore not shy away from reminding the esteemed audience that Germany, as Europe’s largest additive manufacturing market with an average growth rate of 10-15%, is not only an excellent partner, but also a gateway into Europe for complementary sectors like intralogistics and automation.

Especially with the global geopolitical and economic shift to the Indo-Pacific, the benefits of a stronger partnership are clear.

Germany is committed to deepening relations with the region, which constitutes the 5th largest economy globally.

On a government-to-government level, there is a commitment to optimize collaboration among our industries.

This is why initiatives such as the Germany-Singapore SME Funding Programme (GSFP) were established.

The GSFP, jointly administered by Enterprise Singapore and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) acknowledges the potential among SMEs, which are the backbone of the German economy as well.

Moreover, as strong proponents of a rules-based system, developments in regulatory frameworks and standards-setting can provide necessary safeguards as we fully integrate into the digital economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to end by taking the opportunity to congratulate Constellar and Hannover Messe for organizing this pilot MICE event.

It is bold to take on this endeavor and it is a much welcome step towards post-pandemic recovery.

I wish you all a very fruitful and exciting time here.

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