Tech training in Singapore
Information & Communications Technology and Media | 05 May 2020
(Tech training in Singapore has grown in importance, especially in 2020. Even as we refresh this article only a year after publishing it, the world already looks different as countries scramble to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Technology continues to disrupt almost every sector. In parallel, tech training has grown in importance in Singapore and as with every disruptive force, there will be risks, but also opportunities. According to a McKinsey Global Survey, COVID-19 has accelerated years of digitalisation into a span of a few months, bringing about likely long-term changes to both organisations and industries.
Several management staff of companies whom IndSights Research spoke to shared that the workforce of the future will rely on complementary skillsets – both of university/polytechnic learning and vocational training. Tech training may not only be the right fit for some employees, but it may also be the smart alternative as jobs continue to shift.
Employers need to offer reskilling and tech training programmes in a way and scale that is real and accessible to employees. Employees should understand and feel that these tech training offer them an opportunity for career growth. Studies have shown that businesses are not keeping pace with workers’ desire to learn, especially in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). Singapore must build a nationwide, future-oriented workforce founded on sustainable careers, to provide jobs to meet the growing demand of tech-related jobs. Read more in our previous article, HERE.
Tech training in Singapore’s context
From IndSights’ Year-in-Review of tech companies in 2020, our findings suggest that companies that invest in tech training for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) employees were more likely to see an increase in Year-on-Year revenue compared to those that did not. We also found in our Business Sentiment Survey that 22 percent of ICT companies were planning to increase their investment in training, despite the pandemic.
Speaking in Parliament on 4 Jun 2020, Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S. Iswaran reported that the tech sector was doing well despite the hits from the pandemic. Jan to Mar 2020 saw the ICT sector expanding by 3.5 per cent and saw the creation of 1,100 jobs.
Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat commented that the employment landscape is changing, and that a digital, innovation-driven economy means that businesses will need highly skilled and deep tech talent. In Budget 2021, Mr. Heng announced, among other news, that the National Research Foundation will support about 500 fellowships under the new Innovation and Enterprise Fellowship Programme to meet needs in areas such as cybersecurity, AI and HealthTech.
Training for ICT sector – TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Programme
Singapore aims to be a forerunner in the tech sector and there are many initiatives to help businesses build their workers’ capability. One such initiative is the TeSA programme aimed primarily at supporting the ICT industry.
TeSA is a tripartite initiative by the InfoComm Media Development Authority (IMDA), industry and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), to build and develop a skilled ICT workforce for Singapore, and to enhance employability outcomes for individuals. Mr. Iswaran reported in Parliament on 3 March 2020, that TeSA has provided close to 100,000 training places since it was launched in 2016.
The TeSA programme has 3 thrusts:
Thrust 1 – Provide Skills Framework for ICT
The Skills Framework for ICT is aimed at helping a wide range of ICT professionals. It can be used by hirers to develop career maps and articulate job requirements. Individuals can use it to guide their skills identification and development to stay relevant. Training providers may use it to devise ICT courses. The framework will support emerging areas such as cyber security, Internet of Things, immersive media, artificial intelligence and data analytics.
Thrust 2 – Skills Acquisition and Validation
A broad-based approach to skills development is taken to enable individuals to up-skill or deepen their knowledge to fill industry gaps. A targeted approach is taken with companies, coding schools, Continuing Education and Training (CET) and other partners to provide eligible individuals various pathways to join the ICT profession, upskill and reskill themselves.
The programmes include:
- Company-Led Training (CLT) programme
- Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus (CITREP+)
- Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for ICT
- SkillsFuture Study Awards for ICT Sector
- SkillsFuture Work-Study Programme (WSP)
- Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP)
- TeSA Mid-Career Advance
The TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme was launch in Mar 2020. This latest programme to the list was designed to help Singaporean mid-career professionals aged 40 and above to reskill or upskill themselves so that they can embark on a tech-related career.
Thrust 3 – Integrated Career Services
This is a coordinated career support ecosystem for job matching, group mentoring and leadership programmes by tripartite partners such as NTUC, e2i, Singapore Computer Society, IMDA and Workforce Singapore. It provides dedicated and focused career advisory, facilitation and support services for those looking to join or develop their careers in ICT, through career fairs, centers with career coaches, and advice from experienced ICT professionals.
Besides the TeSA programme, there are various other initiatives to aid training for employers and employees. Some other resources you might be interested to explore:
Collaborating with industry partners
Industry players play a pivotal role in developing tech talents. On the heels of building the Singapore Core, we see a slew of industry leaders partnering government agencies and schools to build a pipeline of tech talent. This bodes well for Singapore.
On 25 Feb 2021, it was announced that Tech company – Grab, IMDA and the Government’s Digital Industry Singapore (DISG), signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI). Under the MOI, Grab will support Singapore’s tech ecosystem through the development of the company’s tech talent and research and development capabilities here.
On 11 Feb 2021, Singtel announced that it will hire and train 500 professionals in Singapore over the next two years as part of a collaboration with IMDA, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Polytechnic (SP).
Tech giant, Dell, is offering to arm 3,000 students, fresh graduates, and mid-career professionals in Singapore with skills in cloud computing, data protection, data science, and big data analytics. To achieve this, Dell will work with Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore’s SGUnited Traineeship or Mid-Career Pathways programme.
In addition, Singapore is seeing a slew of Tech giants landing on her shores. This trend can only stimulate more demand for tech talent, as well as accelerate tech training, as these companies compete to fill their ranks with the best talents possible.
Will Singapore be Asia’s Silicon Valley? With the right strategies, support, and cooperation with local businesses, it might be a reality Singapore can look forward to.
This article is contributed by Moses Ku, Manager (Engagement), IndSights Research.