Mr Daniel Goldstein, CEO, Elements
Distinguished guests,

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to the inaugural Tech Hirers Connect.

Period of Economic Transformation

2 We are in the midst of significant economic transformation here in Singapore. We have talked about this for some time. We had the Committee of Future Economy (now known as the Future Economy Council), we reorganised parts of the Government to form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, we had our Smart Nation initiative now for three years, but what it comes down to is a transformation of our entire economy. Every sector, every industry, every business opportunity can and needs to be transformed to make us resilient, to add vibrancy, and to make sure that our economy remains dynamic in the years to come. 

3 At the heart of this transformation is the use of technology. The risks as well as the opportunities, the threats as well as the positive benefits afforded by the new products, platforms and services that are being developed today that were not even imagined years ago. This economic transformation requires us to grasp the issues and skills around technology. If you look at the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) that we are developing, or if you look at what we are trying to do around the process of economic transformation, we can see that the use of digital products, the use of technology is at the heart. The infocomm media (ICM) and technology sectors are undergoing a significant change — you can already see it on the ground, and we anticipate that a significant number of jobs would continue to be developed over the next five to 10 years. The infocomm technology (ICT) sector has a role to play in the transformation of other sectors, but itself is also undergoing significant transformation.

Role of Industry

4 In this process of economic transformation, private industry has a key role to play. At the end of it, it is about the opportunity created for the industry and the individuals. This comes down to jobs. We need to create new jobs, jobs that we did not imagine or design just a few years ago. Again, a significant proportion of these will either require ICT skills, or will be in the ICT/ICM sector. The industry has a role to play, not just in maximising the economic value of this in creating the opportunity, but also in looking at how those jobs are created and how people are trained for those jobs. The rate-limiting step for this process of economic transformation being pursued by many city states, countries and jurisdictions around the world, is manpower — the availability of skills, talent and skilled manpower. You know this on the ground. If we can get this piece right — how to get hold of, retain, re-train or re-skill manpower, it will serve us well for decades to come. The industry has been playing a significant role and needs to continue playing that significant role in this process. We are always going to be a little bit short on manpower, but the disruptions afforded by these transformations will also, frankly speaking, make manpower available as jobs transform. How can we retrain and reskill these individuals to take advantage of the new jobs that come along? 

TeSA programmes to reskill and upskill mid-career PMETs

5 We need to tap on Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMET) staff, often mid-career, who have been disrupted out of one job or who have had their job structure changed. We need to take advantage of the opportunity that they afford, re-train them into the new spaces, jobs, and business models. On our part, we have the Tech Skills Accelerator Programme (TeSA), which we partner with the industry to develop some of the structures and provide incentives to accelerate the process of re-training and re-skilling. We can identify the people, we can help the industry develop the programmes and then help with the placement of these people after training. TeSA has a number of programmes which reflect the breadth and depth of the technology industry domain. Some of them are longer programmes, some of them are shorter programmes, some of them require fairly high level technical skills at the point of entry, and some of them are very basic. 

6 I want to highlight three examples of how we have covered the ground and across the breadth of the industry. We have the Company-led Training Programme (CLT), partnering with companies to look at their HR practices and in-house professional development practices. This programme targets mid-career PMETs who already have domain expertise but may not have the technical skills to take that leap either in their career, or to participate in the next part of the company’s business transformation. We can help to incentivise and encourage people to do this, and ultimately our hope is that these companies are able to provide extra training opportunities for the rest of the industry, across the ecosystem. 

7 The next example is the Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), targeting a very different segment - these are non-ICT professionals, people who do not service any part of the ICT industry today. Now, as these types of jobs get increasingly disrupted, new opportunities are created in other industries. For the mature PMETs to maximise the opportunities, they need to develop ICT skills. They need to become familiar with technology as they did not have such opportunities when they were in high school or junior college. So the TIPP addresses this demographic—non ICT professionals who are trying to get deeper, better ICT skills in order to take these tech-related skills to a non-tech job across different industries. 

8 And the third example I want to give is the Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme Plus, or CITREP+ in short. CITREP looks at ICT professionals who are already within the industry — people who have been working along a particular development path using a particular technology. For example, an individual who has learnt a programming language or an engineering skill, or one who has honed his or her craft over a decade or two. Yet today, a new platform or product is reducing the need for this individual as an ICT professional. Companies who have 100 engineers can now get away with ten. As the company, how can you then redeploy these 90 engineers who might be excellent, skilled, experienced but who have yet to re-learn new tech skills in the last five to 10 years? 

9 A combination of these TeSA programmes and many others have trained 16,000 individuals to date over a very short period of time. If we can scale this up and keep it sustainable, we know we can add a big boost to the manpower needed in order to drive this part of our economy. 

10 The success of all the TeSA programmes rest on the partnerships that we have been able to develop with the industry. I just want to highlight one partner — ST Electronics, which has committed to training 120 professionals, half of whom are mature mid-career professionals. These professionals are involved in a diverse range of job roles, such as security threat engineers and digital forensic investigators. ST Electronics is a valuable partner, and I am sure many of you are doing similar things. For those of you who are not, I would encourage you to come on-board. After all, we are in the same boat — you have a manpower need, we have a manpower need. When we cannot create extra people out of nowhere, we have to look at how we can re-skill and re-train the manpower that we do have, to serve your needs and in turn serve our national needs. 

TeSA Pilot Immersion Programme

11 I am happy to announce a new pilot programme that will target yet another demographic, increasing the variety and breadth that we have under the TeSA programme. I talked about skilled engineers who perhaps needed tech skills. We know that there are groups of engineers who are technically skilled mid-career professionals, but do not have any experience working in new types of companies, under new business models. This is a gap not so much in technical skills, but in cultural skills. It is important for these mid-career professionals to understand how these new companies work, how the process of working in teams could mean something completely different compared to the time they graduated from their training programme. 

12 This new TeSA pilot programme is going to address this cultural skills gap. It is aimed at mid-career ICT professionals who are looking at project-based type of placement - three to six months into companies that reflect this new culture and business models. Seven companies have signed up — Zalora, who is looking for product managers to develop platforms; Taiger, an artificial intelligence company looking for IT risk managers in their space. We have also got Shoppe, Sea, Trakomatic, PropertyGuru and Evercomm. These are seven types of companies representing new business models, and from our perspective, an opportunity for mid-career ICT professionals to engage in a project, learn about new models of work, business operations and hopefully either stay on in those companies or take some of those skills and spread out to the rest of the ecosystem so that we can drive this process going forward. 


13 We need to address the skills gap and manpower gap in a number of ways. There are many programmes and efforts going on that I have not touched on — from looking at what we do in our schools, what we are doing in post-secondary institutions, how we are encouraging an increasing number of men and women who are looking at careers in the ICT industry. However, one untapped group, which is what TeSA is looking at, are people who have already chosen to enter this ICT space: how to retain them, re-train them and make sure that they maximise their opportunity over the length of their career. Ultimately, this will rest on industry partnership. They is the key foundation of what we are trying to achieve under TeSA. I thank those of you who have come on-board. I would like to encourage those of you who are considering it, to think about how you can partner with us in solving what I consider as the rate-limiting step in driving our opportunity to maximise our potential in the technology and infocomm space here in Singapore. 

14 Thank you very much.

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