Shortage of talent in ICT to be addressed in MCI’s Budget debate

March 28, 201610:26 am454 views
Shortage of talent in ICT to be addressed in MCI’s Budget debate
People take part in car-free Sunday on March 27, 2016. Photo: Jason Quah

Addressing the manpower needs of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, and imbuing Singaporeans with a love of reading will be among the Ministry of Communications and Information’s focus areas in the coming parliamentary debate on its budget.

Speaking on the sidelines of the second car-free Sunday on Sunday (March 27), Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said that the talent gap in the ICT sector — which has seen a growth in jobs, albeit with few Singaporeans taking them up — has been a concern for many years.

With the Republic aiming to transform into a Smart Nation, Dr Yaacob pointed out that this was simply a platform and that a pool of talent will be required.

“You need people who understand the needs of Singaporeans, young and old, (so) you can develop services and applications which are relevant,” he said.

Owing to the nature of security concerns, cybersecurity is another area where more Singaporeans are needed, he added.

Asked whether the upcoming TechSkills Accelerator, the skills development and job placement hub announced in Budget 2016, reflected a need to build a Singaporean core in the sector, Dr Yaacob said a judicious mix of Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans must be struck.

“We cannot pretend that we produce enough babies for us to be able to get everyone into the ICT sector because there are other demands in other areas,” he said.

So, his ministry will have to work with the Manpower Ministry and other government agencies to find that balance.

“The most important thing for us is to ensure that Singaporeans see (the ICT sector) as a growth area for them,” he said.

His ministry is also planning to start a national reading movement to inculcate a love of reading among Singaporeans.

“Reading is an important part of making our nation … a literate and informed society,” he said.

“We want to address some of the gaps and ensure that all our regional … and public libraries can play a role in enhancing the love of reading among Singaporeans.”

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