Since 2014, Singapore has put policies in place to enhance digital infrastructure and become a "Smart Nation." With over $2 billion in funding, the government is offering free workshops, talks and programs to support Sinagorean citizens and residents as well. For example, college-bound students who want to major in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can benefit from the programme's scholarships to help fund their tuition fees. Additionally, families without access to the internet can qualify for up to two years of subsidized fibre broadband and a tablet or smart phone. While the government's goals are pivoted towards long-term planning and equalizing opportunities for its people, there are several steps you can take now to prepare for this digital revolution. Below are three ways to secure a competitive advantage as Singapore furthers itself into the digital age.
One way to prepare for a change in Singapore is to invest in your education. By doing so, you can better adapt to the changes set to take place in the coming years. If you don't know where to start when it comes to further education, you could simply sign up for Smart Nation's free workshops Despite the Covid-19 restrictions temporarily in place, there are many Zoom-based meetings hosted by Smart Nation to keep people of all ages keep informed on developments in technology and their projected impacts.
If you are interested in artificial intelligence and would like to further your skills or change your career, you could learn to code. The primary advantage of learning programming is that the average salary for programming-related jobs are typically higher than non-tech jobs. Thus, switching your career could pay off in the long run if you have the time and means to do so now. To start, you could look into the free programmes offered by Smart Nation Together and other online websites (like Khan Academy). However, if you want a job that requires programming knowledge, you may wish to take a courses and "bootcamp," which can cost between a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
If You Own a Small Business, Take Advantage of Smart Nation's Resources
If you hold a stake in your company, or are interested in ways in which your workplace could support its employees, you may wish to consider adapting your workplace goals to those in-line with Smart Nation's goals. To aid this, the government hosts collaboration workshops like Enterprise Singapore, HealthLab, and InnoLeap to encourage discussions on sustainable growth and networking. Additionally, the government supports SMEs by offering them benefits (like tax reductions and grants) for investing in technology. For example, businesses can qualify for up to 10% tax reduction to produce eco-friendly manufacturing equipment or grants for creating proprietary technology.
Small Business Incentives Provided by the Singapore Government
You could also fund your employees (or see if your employers will fund your) coding and IT skill certifications. A study from Why It Is Critical to Invest in Employee Training and Development lists several benefits of investing into your employee's education, including retained loyalty, decreased turnover and flexibility in moving positions. This could translate into savings on hiring costs, as replacing a vital employee could cost your company 6-9 months worth of salary. It's also worth remembering that certain education perks your company offers might attract more ambitious employees in the hiring process.
If You Are Interested in Investing, Consider Investing Into Tech-Based SMEs
If you are familiar with investing and would like to use it to help Smart Nation's initiatives, you could invest in technology-oriented SMEs. Singapore is the Asian capital for financial fin-techs, and investment is common. By investing into these smaller companies, you can not only show your support for the initiative, but you could also potentially gain worthwhile returns. For example, if you decide to invest in a company that facilitates multinational payments, you could make returns on the rapidly growing remittance economy.
Type of Financial Technologies in Singapore
To invest, you could simply do online trading with a focus on fin-techs, set up a fund or exchange-traded fund that focuses on tech-based companies, or crowd-fund with peer-to-peer lending. By investing in another company that aligns with the state's goals, you will play a great role to help fund the future. Of course, investments involve risk so research the firms thoroughly prior to investing.
Angel Investors: Know What Financial Benefits You Qualify For
Angel investors could qualify for a matched 1:1 funding of up to S$10 million under the Early Stage Venture Fund. This programme began in 2008, and has since provided 15 venture capital firms with additional funding to help grow seed money for early-stage startups. Furthermore, the Fund Management Incentive and Section 13H Scheme offer a 5% concessionary tax rate and tax deductions on income derived from managing S13H approved funds. Since the government offers many investing incentives, it's worth spending some time seeing which one is most suitable for you.
How Can You Best Prepare for a Smart Nation?
The government is promoting long-term strategies to help bring Singapore to the forefront of technology by creating a "Smart Nation." Even in the wake of Covid-19, Singapore has used technology to find new ways to track and trace the virus, support businesses, and automate many bureaucratic processes.
While this is exciting as it could make bureaucracy more efficient, strengthen the economy and digitalize society's problems, individuals should get involved to make the process as beneficial for everyone as possible. To do so, you should invest in yourself, your company, and your finances. The road map set by the government is clear, now it's just a matter of anticipating and acclimating yourself to the changes that will occur.