Summary of Forward SG report after gathering feedback from 200,000 S'poreans in 16 months

We summarised the 180-page report to a 180-second read.

Khine Zin Htet | October 27, 2023, 04:44 PM



The Forward Singapore (Forward SG) exercise which was launched in June 2022 has finally concluded, with a 180-page report on its findings released today (Oct. 27).

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong launched the report which unveils recommendations and key policy shifts built on suggestions from Singaporeans and stakeholders during the Forward SG engagement sessions.

These sessions aimed to engage Singaporeans in order to refresh the country's social compact.

Over 200,000 Singaporeans were brought together over the last 16 months to discuss various issues such as careers, ageing, and environmental sustainability.

A new Singaporean Dream

Through these engagements, one area that was commonly brought up was the idea of how a 'good life' has evolved beyond material success.

There is less focus on chasing after the five ‘C’s — condo, car, cash, credit card, country club, the report said.

Discussions about careers and jobs amongst youths in particular found that they often want meaning and purpose in what they do, not just good salaries.

While material success is still coveted, Singaporeans want to embrace wider definitions of success, the report found.

"We seek a more inclusive Singapore Dream — one where we value every individual, support them in their diverse aspirations and pathways, and celebrate their achievements and successes together," the report said.

To achieve this new idea of a Singaporean Dream, seven key shifts were outlined in the report.

These tackle changing mindsets and attitudes about success in the areas of education and careers, as well as building a sense of collective responsibility amongst Singaporeans.

Embracing learning beyond grades

Education in Singapore has been highly emphasised, and over time it has led to anxiety about grades and pressure to get into "right" schools, the report said.

More will be done to embrace learning beyond grades. In particular, more diverse pathways will be made to develop every student to their full potential.

There will no longer be "Normal" and "Express" streams from 2024 and schools will move to full subject-based banding to cater to diverse learning needs.

The government has also reduced the frequency of school exams across all levels to free up time and space for Singaporean children to grow, the report said.

"We will shift away from an excessive focus on academics towards more holistic learning based on our children’s strengths, interests and chosen pathways," it added.

The report also highlighted the importance of learning beyond formal education.

The government aims to support mid-career Singaporeans through a substantial top-up of SkillsFuture credit and giving training allowances for them to support themselves when they take time off for reskilling and upskilling trainings.

The report also said that prenatal education is important and encouraged families to start early in inculcating a love for learning in children beyond academics.

Respecting and rewarding every job

Many participants in the exercise also shared that Singapore needs to embrace a wider variety of career pathways.

"We need to go beyond what we have traditionally thought of as ‘good jobs’, which was predominantly defined by the size of our pay cheques," the report said.

The government will continue to regularly review the schemes to further reduce wage gaps across professions, such as the Workfare, Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS).

Salary gaps between Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates and graduates from polytechnics and autonomous universities can also be narrowed by providing more help for them to upskill and upgrade.

One possible solution is to top up their Central Provident Fund (CPF) to give them a head start to purchase a home or save for their retirement, the report suggested.

New initiatives will also be implemented to recognise those who work in ‘hands’ and ‘heart’ jobs like electricians and plumbers, as well as jobs in the healthcare and aged care sectors. This includes providing structured training to support those who want to pursue careers in these areas.

Inflow of foreign workforce will also be managed to ensure it remains complementary to Singaporeans.

In 2023, the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) for Employment Pass (EP) applicants was implemented.

It is a points-based system that enables businesses to clearly understand how the government assesses and approves EP applications.

Supporting families through every stage

The government aims to support all families through every stage of life, from young couples, to the sandwiched generation, to families that have persons with disabilities (PwDs), the report said.

The new classification for Build-To-Order projects will allow housing to remain affordable, fair, and maintain a good social mix.

To help new parents cope with work and infant care, paid paternity leave will be increased from two to four weeks on a voluntary basis with effect from Jan. 1, 2024. This increase will be made mandatory as soon as possible, the report said.

A set of tripartite guidelines on flexible work arrangements will be released in 2024 to empower Singaporeans to balance and manage work and caregiving needs.

Additional support will also be given to caregivers of elderly family members and PwDs.

Enabling seniors to age well

To ensure that seniors in Singapore age well with meaning and purpose, healthcare system will be revamped to do more in improving health.

"This means re-deploying our resources towards more primary and preventive care in the community, and promoting healthier lifestyles," the report said.

A new national programme called Age Well SG will be launched to strengthen the country's aged care system.

This aims to connect senior citizens to Active Ageing Centres (AACs) and encourage seniors to build social circles and lead active lifestyles.

More Community Care Apartment projects will be launched to allow seniors the option of staying in neighbourhoods they are already familiar with.

In helping ‘young seniors’ in their fifties and early sixties prepare for retirement, there is the newly announced Majulah Package that will help boost their retirement and healthcare savings.

Empowering those in need

Besides financial assistance for lower-income families, more holistic support will be given to them to allow them to achieve success on their own terms.

Programmes such as Community Link (ComLink) will be enhanced to support families to planning for their future.

The government will also fully subsidise childcare to all lower-income families based on their income tier, to ensure all children access to education and build a strong foundation for life.

Plans are also in place to create physical and social environments that are more inclusive to PwDs under the Enabling Masterplan 2030.

This also aims to strengthen lifelong learning for PwDs, and enable them to live independently.

Investing in our shared tomorrow

Singapore's limited resources will be managed sustainably to prepare for the future.

To manage limited land and environmental resources, schemes such as the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) allow for redevelopment of older estates.

More sustainable business models will also be explored.

To strengthen food and water security, food import sources will be diversified and stockpiling of essential items will be continued.

The government also aims to sustainably produce 30 per cent of the nation's nutritional needs by 2030.

In terms of public finances, they also aim to ensure sufficient revenues to cover the country's spending, and keep the fiscal system fair and progressive.

Doing our part as one united people

The report also highlighted the need for collective strength as a society — caring for each other with a deep sense of kinship and mutual trust.

Besides financial donations and volunteerism, there is a need to increase interactions between different groups that exist in a multi-cultural society like Singapore.

More initiatives and civic participation programmes to bring people closer together and contribute to Singapore's shared future will be promoted, the report said.

In tandem to this, Singapore Government Partnerships Office (SGPO) will be established to facilitate interactions between contributing citizens and the relevant government agencies.

Emphasis on "we", not just "I"

The Forward SG report serves as a roadmap for the next phase of nation building towards the new idea of a Singaporean Dream.

Ultimately, Singapore aims to become a society that is vibrant and inclusive, fair and thriving, and resilient and united.

More details of other Forward SG initiatives will be announced in the coming months and at Budget 2024.

You can read the full report here.

Singaporeans can also visit the Forward Singapore Festival at Gardens by the Bay to find out more about the new policy moves — from Oct. 27 to 29.

The Festival is also scheduled to make its way into various heartland locations until Jan. 28, 2024.