Dr Janil on the building blocks of Singapore’s digital economy

As part of the keynote address at the 11th Annual Tech Asia Conference held today (September 21), Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State Ministry of Communications and Information, spoke about why technological talent and l innovation are important to Singapore’s digital economy.

He first noted the rapid changes that are currently taking place following a pandemic, including escalating geopolitical tensions, new economic disruptions and changing employment trends.

Focusing on the “built to last” theme, Dr. Janil questioned what it really takes for Singapore to stay relevant in an ever-changing climate and went on to cite some key adaptability elements that will be vital for us to thrive in the digital future.

“It starts with a secure and resilient digital infrastructure that connects seamlessly and has interoperability as a fundamental expectation. This is a significant role for the state to make sure this happens, ”Dr Janil pointed out.

He also stressed that the government must ensure that Singapore’s trade rules are “pro business” – that we lay the foundation for a vibrant, interdependent digital economy within and beyond our borders.

However, none of this will happen unless Singapore has a highly skilled workforce with industry-relevant skills for the jobs of the future, as well as competitive firms capable of innovating and seizing new opportunities with incentives to do so, rather than blocking the status quo.

By taking these factors into account, Singapore will not only become resilient and adaptable to the change happening around us, it will also potentially be the engine of change with a lasting impact.

Continuous investments in digital infrastructures

“In Singapore, we will continue to invest in digital infrastructure from the start, ensuring that our people and companies are well positioned to benefit soon from any disruptive change, digitization and use of technology to transform our lives and ours. economics, “shared Dr Janil.

Image credit: NASA

For one, it invested early in 5G networks. Indeed, local telecom companies are well on their way to achieving national coverage by 2025 through standalone networks, not just on the backs of existing legacy infrastructure.

The government and its partners have worked to develop use cases in many industries that take advantage of the high speeds and low latencies of 5G, creating new opportunities as a result of that first investment in infrastructure.

Likewise, Singapore will continue to invest in its broadband infrastructure and intends to deliver access speeds 10 times faster than today.

“The latest technology is useful for running ahead of the competition, [but] it has no relevance if it is not reliable. As we invest in our digital infrastructure to grow that digital economy, we need to ensure that the infrastructure is secure and resilient, ”she said.

“Instead of considering security and resilience as costs, we … encourage people to see them as enablers of the digital economy. A more secure and resilient digital infrastructure will allow us to interact with each other – with competitors, collaborators, partners. – with greater confidence and confidence. And this greater security and resilience will allow us to move faster and go further “.

He went on to cite examples of how a growing number of companies are leveraging cloud platforms. The value proposition of cost, technical agility and commodification is clear, but cloud cybersecurity is becoming more and more important.

“We have tried to provide clarity on the security levels of different cloud service providers by implementing the government’s multi-layered cloud security standard to provide companies with a framework to ensure their cloud-hosted data and systems are adequately protected, within an easily explainable and interoperable framework with other sets of governance frameworks “.

Meeting the demand for tech talent

There is really a lot that Singapore can do in terms of infrastructure and build systems that build trust and resilience.

While we use innovative technologies, Singapore must also continually invest in its people.

“As the digital economy in Singapore has grown, so has the demand for technology talent. Digitization has created many exciting job opportunities for recent graduates and mid-career workers,” said Dr Janil.

“We must continue to provide training and learning opportunities to prepare for the next wave of talent to make sure there are people who can seize the opportunities we create and empower the companies that will benefit from these opportunities.”

Therefore, the government has partnered with industry partners to train Singaporeans to take on emerging roles in technology.

singapore technological works
Image credit: GovTech

One of its flagship schemes is called the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), designed to meet the immediate needs of industries. Since 2016, it has placed and trained more than 12,000 people directly into “good tech jobs” and trained another 160,000 who are already busy with the next wave of tech skills.

He also curates programs for many groups, of different backgrounds and different degrees.

In fact, a new TeSA scheme has been launched for ITE (Institute of Technical Education) and polytechnic graduates. This new program brings together companies with training providers, ITEs and polytechnics, through internships, apprenticeships and study-work programs.

Over the next three years, ITE and polytechnic students and graduates will benefit from over 1,000 job vacancies created by the companies participating in this partnership alliance.

“We hope and welcome more companies to join us in this effort to grow our pipeline of local tech talent, nurturing these opportunities for students, helping them develop their skills and understand the market right at the start. of their careers and placing them in the best opportunities, ”said Dr Janil.

While it recognizes that they will “move” and seek opportunities within the tech space, giving them this boost early on will help Singapore build its medium-term tech talent pipeline.

Local companies have a role to play in driving technological innovation

Dr Janil stressed that local businesses are key in driving innovation in Singapore. Therefore, the government will continue to support local tech companies to grow not only within Singapore, but beyond.

Jay Huang, founder and CEO of Pulsifi
Jay Huang, founder and CEO of Pulsifi / Image Credit: Adrian Tan

One example is Pulsifi, a Singapore-based HR technology company founded in 2016. It is a people data platform that accurately predicts candidates’ job performance and job potential in line with style values. of work, helping to reduce up to 70% of men Hours required for talent acquisition and data management.

Pulsifi was awarded one of the government’s business development grants and went on to win numerous awards. Most recently, it managed to secure a global contract with the Nestlé Group.

In addition to grants, the government also provides support to accelerate the growth of promising Singapore-based technology companies through programs such as IMDA Accreditation @ SG, where companies are essentially accredited as solution providers.

One example is Hubble, which leveraged accreditation networks to become one of the solution providers for the local construction industry. It managed to raise S $ 11 million in January 2022 during Series B funding and has since expanded its staffing in Singapore.

“We encourage young startups with innovative solutions to use these approaches we have – funding, accreditation programs – to find your first referral client and we welcome developed technology SMEs to promote their business ventures through these programs.”

A vibrant technology ecosystem is critical for these ideas to find their way into this world. This is where another IMDA program called SPARK comes into play, which supports Singapore-based startups.

Connect growing businesses with community partners, including global consulting firms, law firms, integrated communications firms, product design firms, and technology giants Meta and Google, providing expertise to grow our talent and technology ecosystem to support community use cases.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Prime Minister of the Ministry of Communications and Information
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State Ministry of Communications and Information / Image credit: Screenshot from the TIA 2022 conference

Concluding his speech, Dr. Janil highlighted three fundamentals that Singapore is focusing on for its digital economy: investing in digital infrastructure, particularly in emerging new technologies; investing in people, especially in developing the local talent pipeline; and invest in its ability to grow and develop a vibrant technology community through partnership programs.

“These efforts will lay the groundwork for Singapore to become a leading technology and innovation center. The aspects of our work will last are the communities we build, the talented people we bring with us on the journey and the partnerships we create – these will lead to future excellence and innovation, ”she summed up.

Featured image credit: TIA 2022 conference screenshot