Here’s How We Can Step Up To Groom Local Tech Talent Amid Crunch

It was announced last week that the Singapore government is introducing a new tech pass to attract highly skilled tech professionals from overseas to boost the tech sector here.

Called Tech.Pass, it will be awarded to “top tech talent” and experts who want to start businesses, lead business teams, or teach here.

As Singapore strives to become a smart nation and tech giants set up their regional bases here, we need more tech talent.

Among us, most of the software developers and IT support engineers here are actually from other countries like India, China, and Vietnam.

This begs the question: why do we have to look for tech talent overseas instead of hiring locals?

S’pore faces a tech talent crisis

Singapore’s tech scene is booming, and that’s great news for us. The bad news is that the island’s tech talent may not be enough to fuel an increase in the number of vacancies.

From a young age, we have the choice to study what we want and forge our own career path.

Children who wish to pursue computer science have the option to enroll in Computer Science Diploma and Diploma programs available at institutions in Singapore.

Coding schools have always been around and we have unprecedented access to online resources to learn these skills.

School of Computer Science and Engineering
Undergraduate School of Computer Science and Engineering Overseas Entrepreneurship Program at NTU / Image Credit: NTU

On the one hand, the Overseas College program at the National University of Singapore offers internships in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, home to many global startups and tech companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google.

Additionally, tech leaders like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been highly revered around the world, including in Singapore.

Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates / Image Credit: Geekwire

However, Singapore’s education system produces only 2,800 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduates per year.

Singapore’s tech sector currently employs around 200,000 people and will require an additional 60,000 over the next three years, according to Smart Nation Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

This leaves a shortfall of 51,600, with only 8,400 graduates produced over three years.

“If you’re a programmer, UX designer, or expert in Python, artificial intelligence, and machine learning… or better yet, you create bots, you don’t miss out on jobs,” Balakrishnan revealed.

But still the turnout is low and we lack tech talent here. (except at GovTech). Why is this so?

Why do so few citizens want to study technology?

SIT graduates
Image Credit: SIT

As a Singaporean, I was brought up with the idea that we should study and work in business management or medical science to be successful in life. My peers would agree with that.

Additionally, so many students spend all of their time in school without being exposed to computers – a rapidly growing field of study that is an important key to opening doors to jobs at tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook.

We have not been exposed to terms of IT, coding or hackathons. It was dark territory we were uncomfortable with.

Hackathon
Image Credit: TechCrunch

However, according to Payscale Singapore, an early career software engineer with 1 to 4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of S $ 53,466 based on 859 salaries.

A mid-career software engineer with 5 to 9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of S $ 65,116 based on 395 salaries.

Overall, the salaries are pretty good, but a lack of visibility, support from family and friends, and mentoring could have made it an unpopular career.

S’pore must step up its game to nurture local tech talent

Tech workers
Image Credit: Asean Today

Balakrishnan says the Singapore government is trying to tackle technology talent shortages by “encouraging mid-career changes” and persuading “thousands of people eager to learn to enter this industry.”

We have mid-career advancement programs such as TeSA by IMDA that provide Singaporeans aged 40 and over the opportunity to re-qualify or upgrade while working in technology.

Local tech giant Sea Limited (Sea) and IMDA also signed a memorandum of understanding to hire and train 500 Singaporeans in areas such as product management, software engineering, and user experience design.

The financial arm of local gaming hardware giant Razer, Razer Fintech, hosted an innovative hackathon to attract new Singaporean graduates interested in exploring the financial technology (fintech) space in the county.

There are also various tech scholarships offered by major institutions such as NUS, NTU, SIT and SUTD as well as our media authority IMDA.

These initiatives are great, but there is still a lot to do – from growing awareness to education on the importance of technology for a digital economy.

Prioritize technical education

It was announced last year that all upper secondary school students will take coding classes, with the aim of nurturing young tech talent.

The 10-hour enrichment program has been tested this year in select schools for students after their PSLE ​​exams, and will be rolled out to all primary schools by this year.

Ong Ye Kung
Image credit: Ong Ye Kung Facebook page

This initiative is beneficial, but not sufficient. 10 hours of coding will teach you only basic HTML skills, help you take baby steps, but far from being a programmer.

In addition, students here have many subjects to cover, in addition to homework assigned by each subject teacher and after-school lessons. The extra coding classes just can’t fit into an already busy schedule.

The future of work is digital and all jobs will eventually require basic technical skills. Consequently, technological education must be prioritized.

It would also help if there were incentives for Singaporeans to study technology as their primary, such as exclusive internships or more attractive perks at tech companies.

Yes, attracting fast growing tech companies and established tech talent to enter and anchor Singapore is indeed important.

It will also create more opportunities for local tech talent to work in globally competitive teams alongside top tech talent from around the world, as they bring their capital, networks and expertise to the table. technological ecosystem of the country.

However, I am sure more Singaporeans would be keen on a career in tech if more opportunities presented themselves.

We can also reduce competition with France and Thailand to attract skilled tech professionals to our ecosystem, when we train local tech talent.

Featured Image Credit: Asia Campaign

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Jothi Venkat

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