MCI to invest S$120 million in ICT manpower needs

code-459070_960_720.jpg With the demand for jobs in Singapore’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector outstripping supply, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) announced on Monday (April 4) it will set aside S$120 million to support training for both current and future infocomm professionals. MCI’s Minister Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament during the Committee of Supply debates that with “good growth” expected in the ICT sector, the ministry anticipates an additional demand of 30,000 infocomm jobs to be filled by 2020.

“It is difficult to meet company needs for skilled manpower without non-Singaporeans entirely,” he said. “But we must do our best to support our Singaporeans to be highly skilled so that they can compete with global talent.” Dr Yaacob said that MCI will focus its efforts in high demand areas such as software development, data analytics, cybersecurity, and network & infrastructure.

To ensure a steady stream of infocomm jobs, MCI will launch an Industry Preparation for Pre-Graduates (iPrep) Programme targeting some 6,000 students from each cohort of infocomm disciplines. “Today, our estimates indicate that a significant proportion of them do not enter the sector upon graduation,” said Dr Yaacob. “This is a missed opportunity. IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) has studied this together with stakeholders. One reason is that employers are looking for applicants with strong experience, even prior to graduation.” IDA will thus work with institutes of higher learning to place students on the structured internship and mentorship iPrep programme, to help them build up their portfolios and gain sufficient entry-level skills and experience before they graduate. “Over three years, we hope to increase the supply of professionals by 2,400,” added Dr Yaacob. 

As for current working ICT professionals, MCI will expand its Company-Led Training (CLT) programmes to aid over 1,000 professional each year, up from 160. “Mid-level professionals will now also benefit from local and overseas training and attachments to build expertise and competencies for jobs in demand, especially in emerging tech areas like cyber security and analytics,” said Dr Yaacob. He also said IDA’s Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme (CITREP), which helps mid-level professionals take up short courses and certifications every year – will be expanded to help entry-level counterparts start acquiring skills early in their careers. IDA will also enhance its accelerated Tech Immersion and Placement programmes, which provide quick training and job opportunities for people with no background in tech but are interested in such a career. The capacity for these programmes will be increased to support over 1,000 Singaporean trainees over the next three years, especially those with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds, said Dr Yaacob.

Dr Yaacob also said MCI will work closely with industry partners to grow the Technology Skills Accelerator – a hub for the ICT sector announced at the Budget last month – into a flagship platform for all of Singapore’s infocomm professionals to receive training and career advice. “A new feature of the TechSkills Accelerator is that the partnership will be anchored by major employers in the sector. This is important because employers must also themselves want to develop a strong Singapore core and offer competitive remuneration to recognise skills achievement, and not just paper qualifications,” said Dr Yaacob. “I am happy to confirm that several anchor employers, including the new Government Technology Agency, Singtel, Mediacorp, ST Electronics, Integrated Health Information Systems, DBS and UOB, have already committed to be a part of the TechSkills Accelerator.”

Said Kenneth Soh, Chief Human Resources Officer at Mediacorp: “Technology is increasingly part of everything we do at Mediacorp. We welcome the opportunity to work with the IDA via the TechSkills Accelerator to build the ICT skills we need to anticipate future trends, drive innovative programmes and get the best value from the technologies we invest in.” Dr Yaacob concluded: “I encourage more companies to come on board and to put more emphasis in talent development, so that we can together, build a strong Singapore core for infocomm.”