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Insights from Parliament: Singapore's plan to develop digital-ready talent

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, addressed a number of issues in Parliament yesterday (6 March). Some of the most pertinent to HR leaders are listed here.

On the ABCs of growing the digital economy

Minister Yaacob highlighed the government's ABC framework in ensuring that Singapore's businesses and workforce can thrive in the digital future:

  • Accelerate digitalisation of sectors: The SMEs Go Digital Programme was launched last year, which provides step-by-step guidance under the Industry Digital Plans (IDPs), to make digitalisation simpler for SMEs. More than 650 SMEs have benefitted from the programme so far.
  • The government is currently studying e-invoicing to ensure companies are paid faster, and open up new financing options.
  • Building infocomm media (ICM) companies: Post the launch of the ICM Industry Transformation Map (ITM), 13,000 new PMET jobs are expected to be created by "building up our workforce, and helping our companies internationalise."
  • IMDA runs [email protected] Digital, which helps to scale innovative Singapore-based ICM companies, with 24 accredited companies on board, a number expected to quadruple in five years.
  • Creating future digital technology sectors: IMDA launched the AI Apprenticeship Programme with AI Singapore, to develop AI professionals through training courses. The first batch of 20 trainees will start training in May.
  • The Personal Data Protection Act is being reviewed to keep pace with technological developments and regulatory trends.
  • Presently, there are no plans to introduce regulations for AI applications, "as the field is still nascent and to avoid stifling innovation." However, IMDA is working with sector regulators to study issues and mitigate potential risks from deploying AI.

On upskilling the workforce with strong digital capabilities

"Just as we will help citizens become digitally ready, the government will also help workers and businesses build strong capabilities to benefit from the opportunities in a digital economy, said Minister Yaacob, highlighting the following initiatives:

  • TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) is a tripartite initiative to build digital capabilities through training. Since its launch in 2016, more than 27,000 training places have been taken up or committed.
  • Everyone who has undergone TeSA’s company-led training programmes and more than 90% of job seeking trainees from Tech Immersion and Placement Programme have been placed.
  • TeSA initiatives will be scaled up with an additional S$145mn of funding, while an additional 20,000 training places will be provided by 2020.
  • TeSA will work closely with industry to develop more programmes in frontier technology areas, such as AI and data analytics, cybersecurity, IoT and immersive media, to spur job opportunities.
  • Currently, TeSA is quite focused on the ICT sector, as well as on finance and healthcare. Moving forward, it will expand its training offering into manufacturing and professional services.
  • Support will be strengthened for mid-career ICT PMETs. Since 2016, approximately 10,000 TeSA training places have been taken up by those above the age of 40.
  • Employment facilitation for mid-career professionals will be strengthened. Through a career support ecosystem with partners like the Singapore Computer Society, WSG, e2i and NTUC, individuals will get more career guidance, and better job-matching support.

On developing talent for the local media sector

The government's efforts for the media sector focus on:

  • Developing capabilities for the future:  IMDA will work with game technology company Unity to jointly launch Unity Incubator Services, whereby companies will benefit from best practices in the development of immersive media applications and games.
  • IMDA will introduce more accelerator and training programmes to support companies. For example, goGame, a Singaporean mobile game publishing company, has partnered with IMDA to launch Singapore’s first game accelerator, which will will train early-stage game developers in business strategy, licensing and marketing.
  • Mediacorp has partnered with Temasek Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic on a Young Creators Project, where experienced mentors will guide students in content production. Mediacorp has selected 11 student projects to commission so far.
  • IMDA’s ongoing Talent Assistance scheme provides funding support for media talent to upgrade their skills. From May 2018, the scheme will be expanded to support media professionals outside of the media sector, such as those who are employed in retail companies.
  • The Media Manpower Plan was launched last year. Additionally, IMDA and SkillsFuture Singapore are jointly developing the Skills Framework for Media. This is expected to be launched in November 2018 and will cover about 140 media job roles in games, broadcast, film, etc.
  • IMDA launched the Tripartite Standard on Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers in November last year. Since then, 52 organisations have adopted the Standard. Starting 1 April 2018, organisations must adopt it to qualify for IMDA’s media grants and funding for PSB content.

On usage of libraries for employees' lifelong learning

On what more libraries can do to prepare Singaporeans for the future economy where digital skills will be in higher demand, Minister Yaacob's answer was "plenty", citing the following:

  • The libraries have forged several partnerships, including with SkillsFuture Singapore, to build abilities in three areas: skills and employability; business acumen and market knowledge; and innovation.
  • To promote learning for skills and employability, NLB and SSG jointly set up the LLiBrary in the Lifelong Learning Institute, which lets users use digital resources for their professional development.
  • To help develop business acumen and market knowledge, the NLB recently opened the Eye on Asia Resource Centre to give users a better understanding of regional markets.
  • To inspire innovation, another Pixel Lab at Woodlands Regional Library will be built.
  • NLB will bring in more than 1,000 digital-readiness programmes for all ages every year. NLB will also partner IMDA to develop and deliver a suite of digital readiness services and extend the reach of digital readiness training to more than 300,000 Singaporeans over five years.

Photo / Minister Yaacob Ibrahim's Facebook page

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