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NEWS UPDATES 21 October 2010

Globalization prep should have started earlier

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Training and upgrading are buzzwords for Singapore workers now but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said he would have prepared Singaporeans to cope with the pressures of globalization earlier, if he had known how fast the pace of change would be.

On hindsight, Mr. Lee said he would have started people focusing on upgrading themselves five to 10 years earlier, having seen how some are under pressure from globalization.

He was responding to a question on what he would have done differently for Singapore during the hour-long dialogues session.

Mr. Lee said if the continuous learning movement had started earlier, there would be less of a problem with workers trying to play catch-up.

He said: "Had we known that we were going to be faced with this situation - where knowledge is absolutely critical and you must have the skills and ability to get ahead and do better, otherwise you're going to be at the bottom of the heap, not just at the foot of the totem pole - then I think we would have put even more resources in."

And Mr Lee had this advice for future generations, although he was a little skeptical about youths paying attention.

"I don't think they will listen to it (laughter). The world has changed, the opportunities have grown more but don't forget, some of the verities which brought us here have not really changed," he said.

"The world is still a dangerous place, and we still have to work together and work hard to make a living and you still owe a commitment in Singapore so that in 30 years time, your children will have more opportunities than you."

Mr. Lee said the opportunity for Singapore is for it to become a first-class economy and society in an "unpredictable world".

He said the country has sound fundamentals and resources to organize itself.

He said: "One, to be as open as Singapore, English-speaking and completely connected to the world, and two, to have a government which works and is able to see beyond the next election to ask, 'what must I do so that I'm in a strong position in 10, 15 or 20 years' time'.

"If we can maintain those two advantages, then I think we are in good shape."

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