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Businesses must train workers for the future: Ho Ching at Asean-Australia business summit
[SYDNEY] Temasek Holdings chief executive officer Ho Ching and Greater Sydney Commissioner Lucy Turnbull called on businesses to train their workers for the future, promote gender equality and embrace sustainability, at the start of an Asean-Australia business summit on Friday.
The two businesswomen were speaking as co-hosts at a Women in Business breakfast at the summit, which is taking place on the sidelines of the Asean-Australia Special Summit.
Madam Ho is in Sydney with her husband, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will be attending the 3rd Singapore-Australia Leaders' Summit and the Asean-Australia Special Summit.
Businesses have a stake in the well-being of the wider community that they operate in, Madam Ho said in her opening address.
After all, she added, businesses will find it hard to thrive if society fails.
"Hence, businesses must play their part as stewards for our communities, for our common good alongside governments and the civic society."
This means that aside from focusing on financial returns and profit, businesses should also contribute towards creating a fair, equitable and sustainable society and traintheir people for the future, she said.
"Businesses are in the frontline of technological change," Madam Ho said.
"In this age of disruption it must be a shared responsibility between businesses, governments and our labour movements to help reskill and upskill our workforce for the future."
Her remarks mirrored those of Mrs Turnbull's, who highlighted in her speech the importance of equipping women and girls with the technological skills needed to help them thrive in the jobs of the future.
It is estimated that by 2030, workers will spend 77 per cent more time using science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, regardless of their job, said Mrs Turnbull, who is the wife of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
"So girls must be encouraged to make - as Ho Ching made - the choices that will arm them with the technology skills and the confidence to engage in this fast-changing, digitising and scientific world."
Increased female participation in the workforce and in leadership roles not only lifts the economic security of women individually but also benefits the global economy and societies, Mrs Turnbull said.
"There's an increasing focus on the importance of sustainable and ethical supply chains that may not be coincidental with women's increasing power and voice," she noted.
"In terms of larger firms, we've seen from several studies that companies with women in senior positions do a lot better."
The Australian government has set a target of having women make up half of government boards, she said.
THE STRAITS TIMES