COVID-19 has drastically driven the global economy into a downturn, and Singapore is no different. However, analysts have projected a recovery into positive economic growth of 4 to 6 per cent in 2021, albeit from a low base. The gradual resumption of local activities has led to some recovery and improvement in the economy. Most sectors are still in decline but sectors that were directly related to combating COVID-19 such as biomedical and electronic engineering and manufacturing experienced robust growth and expansion. Due to the lockdown, many businesses were forced to move to digital and online spaces to survive, and most people had to adapt to a work-from-home arrangement. This caused a surge in demand in the information, communication and technology and banking and insurance sectors. The construction sector is likely to see improvement from the low base, although it may be slow, due to COVID-19 regulations and safe-distancing measures that would slow down output. Tourism-related and aviation sectors could see a slow recovery once the gates on travel are gradually lifted and passenger volumes increase. An increase in tourists would also bring revenue to struggling retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses. However, economic activities are unlikely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels even by the end of 2021.
What Is Next for Singapore? The country is now focusing on creating more job and employment opportunities for citizens and permanent residents. There is great emphasis on going digital, and many of the traditional mass marketing companies who used to hold physical conferences, exhibitions and events have already begun moving their business into the virtual space. Many retailers have also moved their shop online and have begun experimenting with new ways of marketing their products to reach and connect with new and existing customers and audiences.
Inevitably, some jobs and businesses have become obsolete, but the government is helping these businesses pivot themselves and adapt to the changing market and circumstances. Remote-working has also become the new norm, but it is a double-edged sword. While global job opportunities will increase for Singaporeans, it also means that foreign talents are also able to take up job positions in Singapore from their home countries, as long as the job can be done virtually, through automation, or artificial intelligence. In the healthcare sector, the government has implemented the use of artificial intelligence to optimise hospital management so that data-backed predictive models can be used to assist doctors and hospital managers in making more informed choices in the care pathways available for their patients. What do all these changes mean for my Singapore Permanent Resident application? If you are intending to apply for a Permanent Resident citizenship and you are one of the key sectors Singapore is focusing on – biomedicine, digital technology, artificial intelligence, cyber-security, or information, communication and technology – the time is now. To maximise your chances of success, it is crucial to apply now, when there is still a shortage of locals who can fill these emerging roles. There may also be Employment Pass restrictions enforced in the coming future, so there is no better time than now.