Digitalisation key to post-COVID-19 world, but needs X-factor to succeed: Iswaran

In the post-pandemic world, digitalisation and digital inclusion are the twin engines that will take Singapore to our digital future. However, to succeed in this effort, "we need the ‘X’ factor," Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said in a social media post. 

"That ‘X’ factor is our people, our mindset, and our willingness to learn and adapt to the “new normal”," he added, elaborating that it requires workers to pick up new skills and adjust to new jobs, no matter what their background.

"It means seniors showing us that age is not a barrier to learning and making the digital transition."

IMDA's community of Digital Ambassadors will be reaching out to engage the seniors. Photo courtesy: IMDA
IMDA's community of Digital Ambassadors will be reaching out to engage the seniors. Photo courtesy: IMDA

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Thursday, June 4, outlined details of a nationwide digitalisation movement to ensure that Singapore can emerge stronger in a post COVID-19 world. The efforts will reflect a concerted push to help every citizen, worker and business go digital. 

To support the demand for digital and tech roles, IMDA will partner industry leaders in various sectors to place and train up to 3,000 more Singaporeans into these roles. This will also help to address the manpower needs of the larger tech ecosystem and put the economy in good stead to seize growth opportunities. 

IMDA has also launched a Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) to encourage enterprises to invest in digital transformation. Eligible enterprises will be able to receive the DRB on top of existing support for them to adopt digital solutions, e-payments and e-invoicing. The initiative will prioritise the F&B and retail sectors as they are the most affected by safe distancing requirements as part of the post-circuit breaker Safe Reopening phase.

To reach out to seniors who may not have the interest, knowledge or financial resources to adopt digital technology, IMDA's community of Digital Ambassadors will work closely with organisations such as the National Library Board, People’s Association and Silver Generation Office, to engage the seniors. Personalised one-to-one or small group support to use digital solutions will be provided.

Lower-income seniors who are keen to go digital but unable to afford devices will be provided with financial support.

The Digital Ambassadors will also support stallholders’ efforts to go digital through the Hawkers Go Digital initiative. Existing efforts on the adoption of e-payments in NEA hawker centres, HDB coffeeshops and JTC industrial canteens will be accelerated.

“COVID-19 is a wake-up call that going digital is not an option – it is an imperative. But we recognize that some segments, especially our seniors and hawkers, may experience challenges doing so," said Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of IMDA.

"We understand and empathise with their challenges, and we will spare no effort to help close the digitalisation gap for them. The team looks forward to helping our workers, seniors, hawkers and businesses go digital, and I want to encourage the industry and the community to work with us to help create a better digital future for all Singaporeans.”