‘Making Policy Future Ready’ at the Government Innovation Lab 2.0 Workshop

Jun 28, 2019   |   Soh Hui Fang

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The Government Innovation Lab 2.0 workshop was held in at Furama Riverfront, Singapore from 11 to 13 June 2019. The workshop facilitated panel discussions and focused on systems mapping and capacity building to explore new approaches and solutions to tackle social issues, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Organised by the Commonwealth in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Youth Co: Lab, the workshop was themed ‘Making Policy Future Ready’, and invited more than 50 delegates from Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, India, Pakistan and Bhutan.

These were stakeholders that ranged from regional government representatives, young entrepreneurs (including start-ups), academia, NGOs, social innovators, the private sector, and United Nations representatives.

The international delegates sat with rapt attention as Carolyn Curtis, CEO of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TASCI) shared in-depth on the role of different stakeholders influencing social outcomes. 


Commonwealth Secretariat, Sushil Ram (Top) and Beniam Gebrezghi (Bottom), UNDP CO:LAB gave their welcome remarks. 

The Commonwealth Secretariat, Sushil Ram kick-started the workshop with a welcome address that touched on how the Commonwealth can create a better and prosperous future by investing in a systems approach to support the youth in entrepreneurship and employment. The same sentiments was shared by Beniam Gebrezghi from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) CO:LAB on creating an enabling environment to engage the youths to make a change in the system.

One of key points highlighted was the technological disruption that brought about major shifts in the labour market, employment and businesses. With digital revolution came the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – tech jargons which were previously unheard of not long ago.

Anshul Sonak, Innovation & Education Programs Global Director, Intel tackled the world of AI and its challenges and possibilities.

Anshul Sonak, Innovation & Education Programs Global Director from Intel presented to the delegates the possibilities with an AI world and the advent of fusion skills required for the workforce.  While conventional professions (e.g. teacher, nurse etc) were here to stay, the nature of work would move towards automation. AI readiness was the key to embrace this new world; the lack of AI talent was a hurdle that needed to be overcome.

The impact on workforce was further emphasized by Karuna Kumar from UNDP CO:LAB who spoke on redefining the future of work through skills retraining for lifelong learning, job redesign, establishment of inclusion and diversity in the workforce and government support in matching education with employment policies.

Tina Jarbeen, Investment Advisor (Startup Bangladesh, Government of Bangladesh) provided insights on the domestic start-up scene in her keynote address. 

Digitalisation and technological revolution is also making its inroads into Bangladesh. Tina Jarbeen, Investment Advisor from Startup Bangladesh, Government of Bangladesh highlighted the vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ with strong government support in funding and developing an entrepreneurship eco-system.

Besides insightful sharing by the speakers, through interactive discussions and simulations, delegates received in-depth insights on how the complex ecosystem are interwoven together collectively in impacting youth entrepreneurship and youth employment. Players within the ecosystem include enterprises, global corporations, the government, social service agencies and the general public. Key issues addressed focus on the role of government policies, businesses, technology, adoption of frameworks for scenario-planning and system mapping to drive social transformation, social innovation and systemic change.

Delegates put their heads together on a workshop activity to identify the key drivers and do system mapping of the business and social eco-system.

As part of the efforts to support intergenerational inclusivity, our attendees also include some university students and youths from Heartware Network.

Our helpful Heartware volunteers provided on-site event support and learnt from the high-level discussions presented. Through their participation in one of the workshop sessions, they were able to share their perspectives from the standpoint of youths to the international delegates.

Heartware Volunteers are not too young to share their views from the stand point of the millennials to the delegates. 

With the convening of key stakeholders, The Commonwealth seeks to facilitate meaningful exchanges and achieve collective impact through consultation and capacity-building.

If you would like to join our network and be informed of future events and initiatives, please email Youth Business at ybs@youthbizsg.org and indicate your areas of interest through this link.