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Keynote Address at Chartered Institute of Management Accountants' Centenary Gala Dinner

Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, Grand Hyatt

Mr Steve Swientozielskyj [Swen/toe/zel/ski], President of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

Mrs Alexandra McKenzie, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission Singapore 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


  1. Thank you for having me here this evening. 

  2. Last week, at the Manpower Ministry’s Workplan Seminar, I spoke about why career mobility matters to Singaporeans.

  3. When it comes to their careers:
    • Most Singaporeans want the opportunity to learn and to grow
    • Few will want to stay in the same spot forever.

  4. If students could have multiple pathways to advance while in education, it is equally, if not more important that working people have rewarding ways to move forward in their careers.
    • After all, our adult working lives will span several multiples of the years we spend in formal education.

  5.  Everyone has aspirations. 
    • It doesn’t matter how old you are
    • It doesn’t matter the qualifications you hold
    • At different points of our lives, our needs may change
    • And so, what we want out of our careers will also change.

    Walking the Tech Journey with our workers

  6. For one group in particular, there is a sense of uncertainty
    • These are workers who are afraid that their jobs, being routine and repetitive, can also be performed by robots which will soon replace them.
    • They include our PMETs, or white collar workers, who also worry
    • This is even though the number of PMETs retrenched has been falling, and is the lowest since 2014
    • And PMET vacancies now exceed 30,000

  7. What do we know about the impact of technology on jobs?
    • In fact, jobs will be created and also jobs lost
    • These are often the subject of intense speculation
    • But that may be missing the woods for the trees
    • The big story is not what jobs are created or lost, but how every job, new and existing, is being transformed by technology.
    • Instead of replacing workers with technology, employers may now require workers to use technology more
    • As job requirements change, worker must adapt
    • As some skills become obsolete, new skills must be learnt

  8. In this environment, therefore, skills are the engine that propel career mobility, both upwards and laterally. In this regard, Workforce Singapore offers targeted support through the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative.

  9. Last year, A&G helped more than 30,000 jobseekers move into new jobs.
    • More than half were PMETs.
    • Nearly one in three were above the age of 50

  10. In particular, through Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs)
    • Close to 5,000 people were re-skilled and employed

  11. Most of the PCP participants do well
    • About two-thirds were recognised for their newly acquired skills, and
    • Received higher wages than before

  12. In essence, the Adapt and Grow initiative is career mobility in action
    • It helps people extend their career runways
    • Through taking on new job roles

    Technological Changes in the Accountancy Sector

  13. Transformation may make some people uncomfortable, but in fact, it is nothing new for the accounting sector.   
    • In the last 20 years, with the proliferation of computers, electronic worksheets were introduced.
    • The demand for manual work such as bookkeeping, has been declining and will likely disappear in the near future.

  14. Today, the sector is undergoing another wave of transformation,
    • Artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud computing are changing how accounting firms function.   
    • Smart companies know they must lead in technology adoption to stay ahead of the curve.    
    • New jobs roles in forensic accounting, risk consulting, business valuation and tax advisory, have emerged
  15. There are about a hundred thousand accounting professionals in Singapore
    • Taking on a wide range of job roles, from financial accounting, external and internal audits, and tax advisory services.
    • These job roles will change.

    Increasing strategic importance of Management Accountants

  16. Management Accountants, for example, performed analytics at mostly fundamental levels
    • They rely on descriptive and diagnostic analytics to provide explanations on what has happened and why it has happened.

  17. Today, Management Accountants need to be conversant with the latest data analytics tools
    • They are expected to go a step further to provide top management and other key stakeholders with more in-depth insights
    • so that companies, including our SMEs,
    • can make better business decisions

  18. Management Accountants play an essential role in the whole ecosystem and are increasingly in demand.  As long as you hold a substantive role in companies, you can be assured of good careers.

    Bridging manpower gaps

  19. At today’s event, we will launch a new PCP for Management Accountants.

  20. The new PCP will give mid-career switchers or displaced individuals with an accounting background
    • The opportunity to be reskilled and upskilled
    • To move into this in-demand role
    • And achieve career mobility.

  21. This PCP is the third in the Accountancy Sector that WSG is launching under the A&G initiative
    • WSG had previously introduced PCPs for Internal Auditors and Financial Forensic Professionals
    • to fill niche and in-demand roles
    • This is done in close consultation with the Singapore Accountancy Commission,
    • As well as professional bodies, such as Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors

  22. The current PCPs, together with other A&G programmes, have helped Singaporeans achieve career mobility in the accounting sector. I hope the newest PCP will benefit more.


  23. When CIMA first formed in 1919,
    • it was out of the need for the accounting profession to better serve both businesses and the public
    • A century later, it is one of the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants.

  24. I am encouraged that CIMA continues to work closely with employers and the workforce to ensure that the profession remains relevant in a fast-changing business world

  25. I encourage you to embrace technology as both employers and employees can benefit from the opportunities to transform. 

  26. Walk this tech journey together and new pathways are bound to open up. I wish you all an enjoyable evening. Thank you.