The state of ICT training in Singapore

Talent shortages mean key positions go unfilled, and rapid technology change means employees can’t keep up their skills. How the government is trying to help.

‘Smart nation’ Singapore aims to be a regional digital innovation hub, but its ambitions are thwarted by a severe talent shortage.

Despite a 16-year high in the number of jobless, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent Reuters report notes that as many as 500 new tech-job vacancies are posted each week on Singapore’s job sites, and that there were nearly 10,000 tech-related job postings on a government-run careers portal in mid-September 2021, with officials expecting another 6,800 jobs and traineeships to be added to the list by June 2021. Singapore’s ICT sector ‘would need another 60,000 professionals over the next three years’, said Vivian Balakrishnan, the country’s minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

“There is an insatiable demand for ICT skills, particularly in the areas of data science, big data, IoT [internet of things], AI/ML [artificial intelligence and machine learning], and the cloud, as well as cybersecurity,” said Anton Ravindran, CEO of GICT Training & Certification and president of the Cloud Computing Chapter of Singapore Computer Society, in an interview with CIO ASEAN. “We need to ramp up quantitative skills as well as programming and analytical skills in addition to project management and solutions architecting know-how.”

Filling the skills gap is only getting harder

Even though the Singapore government has launched many training initiatives for its citizens and residents and the intake for IT courses at Singapore colleges has risen 17% over the past three years to about 7,600 for the 2020 academic year, the numbers are still not good enough to match the vacancies and the range of talent needed by the market. The pandemic restrictions and the tight labour market have made the situation worse for companies looking to hire the right talent to grow their businesses.

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