Despite pandemic, Singapore saw ICT job growth in 2020

The infocomm media sector grew 4.8% even as the overall Singapore economy contracted 5.4%. And the government is pushing for more digitalisation.

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Singapore’s infocomm media (ICM) sector—which includes which includes media, information communications, and telecommunications—has remained “remarkably resilient” and grew by 4.8% in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas the overall economy shrank by 5.4%, said Josephine Teo, Singapore’s minister for Communications and Information, in a recent speech. Local employment in the ICM sector grew by 5%, adding more than 8,000 people to the workforce.

ICM’s “local share of workforce remained steady over the past few years, about three in four [employees],” she said. And “as more sectors embark on digitalisation, the economy-wide demand for digital tech talent is set to increase significantly.”

20,000 digital roles expected to be created

Teo said that some 20,000 digital roles are expected to be created by the committed investments that the Economic Development Board (EDB) secured in 2019 and 2020—or 40% of the job creation from these investments. “That’s how significant this is. Collectively, these trends point to a picture of Singapore’s digital future that is very much at the forefront of our economy.”

At this rate, it is possible that the ICM sector will grow from its 10% share of the economy, Teo said. “In the past five years, growth of the ICM sector in Singapore has consistently surpassed overall GDP growth,” she said, and grew in 2020 despite the pandemic.

Continued government focus on growing the digital sector

“Early investments in digitalisation” helped Singapore to transition well into a digital economy during the pandemic, Teo said. That “made the switch less painful than it would otherwise have been”. For example, digital transformation initiatives such as SMEs Go Digital provided business continuity support for enterprises to perform their operations remotely. Jobs and skills programmes, such as IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), helped build the foundation for the country’s workers to handle massive adaptation of work and business arrangements. And the nation’s broadband networks supported the sudden surge in internet traffic during the nationwide telecommuting and home-based learning period. “Our past investments in building a secure and resilient connectivity infrastructure proved to be essential,” she said.

Among the Singapore government’s priorities is to broaden and deepen digital capabilities in the country’s enterprises by “grooming a new wave of high-performing companies with ambitions to become globally competitive digital leaders, through initiatives such as the Digital Leaders Programme”, Teo said.

One such major government effort will be to enhance “connectivity of Singapore’s businesses with overseas players” through international partnerships, she said. “For example, Singapore is working with key partners through the digital economy agreements to expand a network of interoperable digital standards and systems. Such agreements will support local businesses in accessing overseas markets and strengthen our firms’ technology capabilities through international collaborations.”

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