According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, the demand for individuals with specialist tech talent is not limited to the tech industry.
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Singapore has not been spared the layoffs that have plagued the global tech industry since 2022.
Carousell Online Marketplace reduce its total workforce by 10% last December, and Shopee told the Straits Times he began a third round of layoffs last November.
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But despite downsizing, Singapore is still investing heavily in tech skills. Efforts to hire and train tech talent — in both tech and non-tech sectors across the country — continue to be robust.
Singaporean banks OCBC, DBS and UOB each have developed programs that train tech personnel and prepare students to enter the tech industry. OCBC, for its part, announced in 2022 its intention to hire 1,500 technical employees over the next three years.
And STLogistics announced last year that it would invest 1.7 million Singapore dollars ($1.2 million) to encourage employees to learn digital skills like software robotics. Singaporean telecommunications company M1 has launched a program to equip undergraduates with skills such as cloud infrastructure support, it said on its website.
The demand for these skills isn’t going away anytime soon – in the tech industry and beyond.
Tech jobs have become increasingly popular in recent years.
In 2022, nearly 7 in 10 vacancies in the information and communications field were new positions, which a report from the Ministry of Manpower was the highest level in all sectors for the third consecutive year.
Among vacancies, technology talent such as software developers and application managers continued to be in high demand, the report added.
This level of demand is expected to continue as the economy digitizes, said Terence Chia, cluster director at Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
“It was a consequence of technology companies anchoring and growing their higher value technology development and enterprise functions here,” he said.
On top of that, the demand for people in “specialty tech fields” such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity isn’t limited to the tech sector, Chia told CNBC. These tech workers are needed in multiple sectors such as finance, manufacturing, logistics and professional services, he said.
Technology ‘powers all the big banks’
In finance, technology is the engine that “powers all major banks,” said Donald MacDonald, chief data officer at OCBC Group.
“We want everyone in the bank … to have at least a fundamental understanding of data,” he said.
OCBC has designed a program that gives employees basic data skills and teaches them how data can be used in their jobs, he said.
According to MacDonald, the bank uses the data to understand its customer profiles and personalize each customer’s experience.
Data also plays a role in reducing risk – OCBC analyzes every transaction to detect scams and uses algorithms to determine “who to lend to and… how much to lend to,” he said.
Another data analytics program trains employees in divisions such as finance and risk management, MacDonald said. He has trained about 400 employees to use advanced data analysis skills like Python, which MacDonald says will help them “go beyond” using Excel and other simple tools.
“I see Singapore establishing itself (on its own) as sort of a regional hub for AI and deep tech,” MacDonald said.
IMDA’s plans are on a larger scale: it has trained more more than 15,000 Singaporeans and placed them in specialized tech jobs, Chia said. The jobs cover a range of industries, including financial services, wholesale and retail trade and education, he added.
These jobs often have steep learning curves, but, Chia said, program participants receive “on-the-job training and classroom learning” to gain specialized skills.
One of IMDA’s programs offers non-technical professionals an “intensive bootcamp-like experience” that helps them become tech professionals, he said.
Higher education is no exception. Chia said “many leading companies” support IMDA’s joint initiative with the Ministry of Education to train and create job opportunities for technology students in professional institutes.
“There are always many opportunities in the digital economy for Singaporeans,” Chia said.