CO - Techinnovation

Seizing Opportunities in the ICT Sector

Seizing Opportunities in the ICT Sector

The Increased Pace of Digital Transformation

Automation, digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics. These are not new concepts or processes and certainly not an outcome of the COVID-19 crisis, having already been articulated in the Infocomm Media (ICM) Industry Transformation Map in 2017. In the beginning of 2017, the Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST) Team of NTUC produced an analysis of jobs and skills in the Infocomm Tech (ICT) to highlight the in-demand jobs and skills. Subsequently, in August 2018, FJST together with the Tech Talent Assembly (TTAB), produced an Insight Report on “Future Jobs, Skills and Training in InfocommTechnology Industry”. 

What is clear, in the past months, is that while COVID-19 has disrupted many businesses and companies, it has also accelerated digital transformation. To quote Mr Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, “As Covid-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we have seen two years' worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Infocomm Tech (ICT) Jobs and Opportunities in Singapore

Through my recent Facebook and Zoom “Live” sessions and engagement sessions pre-COVID-19, many of the PMEs I met expressed concerns on not knowing which training courses to go for and also the ever-changing skills requirements in the ICT sector. PMEs I spoke to also wanted to know more about how ICT roles in Singapore would be impacted such as the skills required. They were also curious on, whether Singapore sees the same trends as global markets do. For example, digital marketing and AI jobs are often cited as in-demand jobs internationally, is this also true for Singapore and especially in the ICT sector?

Therefore, I was heartened when NTUC and TTAB came together on a research study “Jobs and Skills for ICT Professionals” to analyse how ICT jobs were evolving in Singapore, taking into consideration COVID-19 impact. Through in-depth interviews and six focus group discussions with over 50 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) from both the private and public sectors in Singapore, it provided a perspective of the challenges and competition from ICT professionals based overseas.

I was also very encouraged that the findings and recommendations from the study received support and endorsement from the IT Management Association and Singapore Computer Society as well as validation from Government Technology Agency (GovTech), and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

 Some of the main findings from the study are:

 (a) Accelerated Competition

With remote working more prevalent, companies now find it easier and motivated to tap on regional based tech PMEs with lower service costs and availability of skillsets.

(b) Opportunities

With accelerating digitalization, for tech PMEs who have good business domain knowledge, there are increased job opportunities to move across into business support roles or managing digital operations within business lines. This is especially so for mid-career PMEs who can leverage on their wealth of experience to complement technical and technological skills. 

(c) Training

To have an edge over regional-based tech PMEs, there is the need for local tech PMEs to have not only the technological skills but also adaptive skills, and the ability to manage and integrate cultural diversity and resources within a regional setup.

The results from this study also showed several opportunities in the employment landscape for ICT professionals in the next three years and can be used as a guide for ICT professionals in deciding which areas to upskill and the relevant training needed:

What Can You Do to Prepare for The Changes?

New Graduates

If you are just starting out in your career – be it in the ICT sector or in an ICT-related job, I urge you to enhance your knowledge in the in-demand skills through relevant application in the industry. This could be in the form of technology bootcamps, internships, traineeships and scholarships or job openings in GovTech, and IMDA. A total of 19,000 traineeships in areas such as infocommunications, engineering and marketing are created under the SGUnited Jobs initiative. (>https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/over-19000-traineeships-in-2800-companies-available-for-graduates) These experiences will put you in good stead with both tech skills and soft skills when the economy picks up again. 

Mid-Career PMEs

While many companies may have set up their branches overseas or have offshored their R&D, they still maintain their "nerve centre" in Singapore. If you are a mid-career professional in the ICT sector, good business domain knowledge will give you a competitive edge and help in seizing job opportunities so that there is an ease in moving across business support roles or managing digital operations within business lines. 

If you have a wealth of experience in areas such as project management and problem-solving, you can add value to emerging ICT jobs by complementing the technical and technological skills needed with the required adaptive skills. 

TTAB will be working with industry partners to develop a skills barometer and this will provide an aggregated view. One way to identify one’s current skills is to tap on the upcoming skills barometer by TTAB and thereafter complement one’s technical and technological skills with courses in communication and cross-cultural appreciation.

There are numerous e-learning courses offered by SkillsFuture Singapore and Singaporeans over 40 years old are also eligible for further subsidies. ICT professionals can proactively tap on the various government funding and support for training and reskilling to adapt to changing skill demands.

To conclude, we are living in challenging and unpredictable times. It will require an agile mindset to stay relevant in this ever-changing economic environment. And I am confident that we will come out more ready and resolute.

  • Patrick Tay Teck Guan,
    Patrick Tay Teck Guan,
    Member of Parliament, Assistant Secretary-General NTUC

    Patrick Tay Teck Guan is a Singaporean politician. A member of the >People's Action Party (PAP), he currently serves as a member of parliament (MP) for the >West Coast Group Representation Constituency, or GRC in short. He also holds jobs at the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union. In 2010, Tay received the >Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (i.e. Public Service Star in >Malay). He is one of the several Assistant Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress. He attended Harvard University's six-week Advanced Management Programme in 2014. From 1995 to 2002, Tay worked at the >Singapore Police Force. At the time when he left the force, he held the appointment of Commanding Officer of the >Special Tactics and Rescue Unit. Since April 2002, Tay has been serving as the National Trade Union Congress' Legal Services Department's Director as well as the Executive Secretary of the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union since November 2012

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