Mr. Sam Liew, President of the Singapore Computer Society,
Distinguished guests,
Colleagues and friends,

1. Thank you for inviting me to join you on this happy occasion.

2. My heartiest congratulations to the award winners!  Not only do we celebrate your achievements, we celebrate the opportunity for everyone to get together again, physically.  In that sense, we all feel like winners!

3. At the same time that we celebrate our Tech Leaders in Singapore today, a part of us is always thinking about tomorrow, about the future.  We want in Singapore to keep growing our talent pool, so we will always have a healthy pipeline from which new successive generations of Tech Leaders can emerge.

4. Everywhere in the world where there is ambition to use technology to improve lives, improve businesses, there is recognition that it is talents hold the keys. And relative to demand, especially today, the supply just can’t keep up. This is as true in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen, as it is in Bangalore and Singapore.

5. In practically every sector where we have drawn up an Industry Transformation Map, there is a clear shift towards broader and deeper use of technology, in particular digital technologies. 

6. This will mean that we are more likely to need a whole mountain range for talents in different disciplines, rather than a few peaks here and there.  In this mountain range, we should aim to scale new highs in at least three areas:  Connectivity, Cloud, and Cybersecurity.

7. I had updated sometime in March that our 5G roll-out is making good progress and likely to be completed ahead of schedule.  Even as we are working hard on 5G and developing many new use cases, we have already started our research on the next bound – 6G.
8. Singapore has committed $70 million into the Future Communications Research & Development Programme (FCP), to conduct cutting-edge communications and connectivity research; to write new standards that have yet to be written; and to actively participate in shaping our future with our international partners. 

9. The next area of “Cloud” is not entirely new.  Many businesses have yet to fully harness its potential to access to technologies such as AI and IoT, to reduce costs, streamline operations and transform customer experience. But the awareness and interest is certainly growing.    

10. By 2025, the estimated amount of data generated globally every day is expected to reach 463 billion gigabytes. This is equivalent to roughly 60 hours of Netflix movies per person daily!

11. This just gives an indication of how much more digitalised all of our daily activities will be, and how many more IT and OT systems are supporting every aspect of our lives. It also means more of the risks we face shift from the physical, analogue world to the cyber domain. 

12. Cybersecurity capabilities are thus critical in helping us manage such risks; and enhancing trust in the Digital Domain.  If you still think cybersecurity is a cost to be avoided, I sincerely urge you to think again.  It is protection for your assets, anything that is of value to you, which anyone would be wise to invest in.   

13. Some of our Award Winners today are already rising to the peaks in these areas. One winner has demonstrated great engineering foresight in developing a cloud AI platform to optimise and automate data centre operations. Another is a passionate and energetic tech investor who has founded cybersecurity firms that have punched above their weight and gained international recognition. Yet another winner, while young, already contributes actively to the community and helps other youths to explore tech areas such as cybersecurity and cloud computing.

14. On our part, the Government will continue to support talent development efforts. Many of you are already familiar with IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator programme, or TeSA. Under TeSA, IMDA has partnered Institutes of Continuous Learning to develop the 5G Academy. To date, more than 4000 Singaporeans have been trained in 5G-related skillsets! 

15. In 2020, Google also partnered IMDA on a TeSA initiative to equip locals with skills and vital industry experience in high growth areas such as cloud technology and machine learning. 

16. There is also the Cybersecurity Associates and Technologists Programme (or CSAT), where CSA and the industry work together to train and upskill both fresh ICT and mid-career professionals for job roles in cybersecurity.

17. Our Polytechnic and ITE students will also form part of the talent pool to strengthen Singapore in the digital age. Together, they account for more than half of our graduates from tech courses every year. They are often a forgotten group, and I think we should really change this. Out of 7,500 students graduating from tech-related courses, more than half - 4,500 - come from our polytechnics and ITE and they have a lot of potential to do more for our tech scene. 

18. Our new TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) for ITE and Polytechnics (TIP) Alliance, which was announced at the MCI Committee of Supply Debates in March, bring together companies which have committed to supporting these students with attractive career pathways — including internships, apprenticeships, and work-study programmes. 

19. At the same time, the fierce competition for talent also means that Singapore must remain open to welcoming the best in the world. They bring expertise and skills that help sustain the growth of our Digital Economy — and create jobs and value for Singapore. Businesses can continue to tap on channels like Tech@SG and Tech.Pass to bring in top-tier tech talent. 

20. On this note, I want to thank SCS for being such a strong partner in helping us develop our local tech workforce. In the 1970s, when we barely had an IT industry, SCS helped, trained and pioneered the kinds of programmes that help to create and deepen the pool of IT professionals. Today, you continue to do important work, such as providing certification for our IT professionals, validating our emerging PET/CET academic courses, and recently, coming onboard as a Skills Development Partner.

21. I want to register my thanks especially to Yoke Sin, who during her time as President of the SCS, was certainly a great partner to the MCI family, and if I may add, during my time as Manpower Minister as well. Sam certainly has big shoes to fill, but in the time that we have interacted with him, as well as the entire leadership team at SCS, we have every confidence that the strong partnership that we have forged over the years will continue to strengthen in the future.
22. To conclude, let me once again congratulate all the awardees of this year’s Tech Leader Awards. Thank you for all of your contributions, which have made the tech scene in Singapore vibrant and gives us much hope for the future!

23. I wish you all an enjoyable evening!
PDF version of the speech 
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