More local techies needed for Smart Nation push
Infocomm is 'high-priority sector' for Singapore's future economy, says Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say
Singaporeans now make up two-thirds of the infocommunications sector here, but more are needed to help Singapore become a Smart Nation.
Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say made this point yesterday at the annual Tech3 Forum at the Mandarin Orchard.
The forum, organised by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS), also saw 10 companies recognised as the best tech firms to work for here.
In his opening speech, Mr Lim called infocomm a "high-priority sector" for Singapore's future economy.
Innovative and fast changing, it contributes directly to economic growth and drives transformation in other sectors.
But the key to unlocking its full potential is not through technology but people, he said.
Mr Lim said efforts are being made to help more locals join and stay in the sector, even as foreigners with different skills are needed to boost expertise in this sector.
His ministry will "strive to minimise substitution and maximise complementarity" through the Fair Consideration Framework - which requires employers to consider Singaporeans first when hiring - to ensure businesses and employment grow in tandem, he added.
Mr Lim noted that about 13,000 more locals were employed in infocomm over the last five years, and its annual employment growth of 4.1 per cent from 2011 to last year is higher than the 2.6 per cent across all sectors.
Job prospects are also good, with eight out 10 jobs in infocomm comprising professionals, managers, engineers and technicians (PMETs), while its median wage is 30 per cent higher than the national median, he said.
Mr Lim highlighted initiatives such as the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), first announced in last year's Budget, which helps information and communications technology employees with training and job placement.
He also said that the scope of the Professional Conversion Programme, which helps people to switch careers, has been expanded.
SCS president Howie Lau said the society will launch a training framework - Digital Proficiency Programme - in the last quarter of this year to help PMETs gain essential digital skills.
But experts told The New Paper that more needs to be done, especially in establishing a long-term pipeline of infocomm professionals.
The Straits Times reported in May that official projections forecast that, by this year, the infocomm technology industry will require 15,000 more workers, particularly in cyber security, data analytics, and development and network infrastructure.
Mr Alvin Ang, managing director of recruitment firm Quantum Leap Career Consultancy, said: "The main issue is the skill gap in the local workforce. This is due to the trend of people preferring other courses of study in the last 10 to 15 years. Few picked infocomm."
Global technology consultancy ThoughtWorks' talent acquisition head, Ms Nikhita Elizabeth Cyriac, said talent shortage is a key issue as industries such as banking and insurance will need to hire to keep up with digitisation.
Mr Ang said that while programmes such as TeSA are useful in training people, they are only short-term measures.
"What the Government needs to do is to spark interest in the field. Education is the key to a pipeline to produce more skilled workers for the sector," he said.
Best tech firms to work for here
The Singapore Computer Society (SCS) - the nation's largest body for infocommunications and digital media professionals - has unveiled the 10 best tech firms to work for here.
They were chosen by an independent panel of judges from the public and private sectors in the industry.
Four of the 10 companies - gaming peripherals maker Razer, open-source software firm Red Hat, online marketplace Carousell and software solutions company Titansoft - were also chosen as overall winners for their innovative practices and workplace excellence.
SCS president Howie Lau said: "The success of the 10 best tech companies to work for is a testament to the importance of investing in human capital in the midst of a digital revolution."
The 10 companies are:
Digital, technology and operational solutions.
- Carousell (overall winner for start-up category)
Online marketplace platform.
- EON Reality
US-based firm specialising in virtual and augmented technologies.
- IBM Singapore
Global computing solutions and consulting company.
- Razer (overall winner for large/MNCs category)
Gaming peripherals maker.
- Red Hat (overall winner for large/MNCs category)
Open-source solutions company based in the US.
- ST Electronics Info-Comm Systems
Leading infocomm technology provider in Asia.
US-based data visualisation software provider.
Singapore design and development studio.
- Titansoft (overall winner for mid-sized/SMEs category)
Singapore software and development consultancy.