Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 15 March 2016


Infocomm talents are hot, but the winners of the IT Leaders Awards 2016 are hotter! Find out who they are.

The hot demand for local IT talent is good news for this year's cohort of graduating infocomm students.

But they won't be enough.

Singapore cannot rely solely on its education system alone to supply the manpower needed for the country’s growing infocomm and technology sector. 

Minister Yaacob

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, shared insights about the infocomm talent situation in Singapore at the IT Leader Awards 2016 ceremony.

As these skills can be learnt at any age, working professionals from other sectors should be encouraged to acquire them through immersive training courses said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information.

Speaking to some 1,000 guests at the IT Leader Awards 2016 ceremony organised by the Singapore Computer Society, Dr Yaacob said that the ICT sector has grown faster than the overall economy since 2011.

“From 2011 to 2014, the workforce grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.7 per cent. The sector grew by 20.9 per cent. In other words, infocomm sector productivity growth has consistently outpaced value-added growth.”

He said that while the current infocomm workforce stands at 150,000, up to 30,000 new positions will need to be filled by 2020.

“To put these numbers in perspective, a total of about 6,000 new infocomm students graduate very year, after completing their tertiary education. This means we will need the entire annual cohort of infocomm school-leavers to join the workforce immediately upon graduation, in order to meet the industry’s manpower demand for the next five years."

“This is almost impossible because some students will further their studies or pursue other career options. Moreover, there will be existing professionals who may retire or leave the workforce.”

Attracting more Infocomm Talent

Dr Yaacob called on the industry to adopt creative and novel approaches to ensure that it attracts the manpower it needs to maintain and grow a strong “Singapore Core” in the infocomm sector. 

Noting that other sectors of the economy will also be relying heavily on infocomm talent to drive innovation and business transformation, he said he was pleased to see that more young adults and mid-career professionals are attending immersive infocomm boot-camps. 

“These market-responsive immersive training courses enable professionals to pick up the know-how quickly and convert them to infocomm roles in Singapore.”

He urged the ICT professionals to use the Massive Open Online Courses that are available and the SkillsFuture programme as a way to rapidly scale up training and remain current with technology.

“While skills can become obsolete, IT professionals need not become obsolete as long as they embrace new emerging disciplines,” he said. 

Attracting professionals from other fields, especially those with a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was another avenue to ensure a steady growth of infocomm talent.

Ultimately, companies need to be flexible in their hiring policies as well, said the Minister. “Some companies today still want to recruit only university graduates. We know from assessments that our polytechnic graduates can hold their own against university graduates when they are judged by competencies, not qualifications."

"Companies who ignore this will miss out on a well-qualified pool of talent.”

He said the government, through the new Government Technology Organisation, will do its part to build engineering and technology talent in Singapore by focusing on skills and competency — rather than qualifications alone.

During the IT Leader Awards, the Minister presented seven awards (see box) which honoured outstanding individuals who have made significant achievements in Singapore’s infocomm and digital media industries.

On its twentieth anniversary, the IT Leader Awards continues to bring together luminaries who serve as inspirations and role models for Singapore’s younger generation of IT professionals.

One recipient was Adjunct Associate Professor Foong Sew Bun from the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing, for the Professional of the Year award. 

AP Foong

Adjunct Associate Professor Foong Sew Bun from the National University of Singapore’s School of Computing won the Professional of the Year award.

Asked for his take on how the infocomm industry can continue to attract young talents, Prof Foong, who is also an IBM Distinguished Engineer, said: “To attract youngsters, we need to show them that this industry has a lot of really cool stuff."

"We need to show them what this sector does so that they realise the many possibilities of IT in generating the things that they are passionate about - like the Internet, smartphone technology and drones.” 

“Students today are very intelligent and they pick up things very quickly, and this is the mindset that is needed to do well in the IT sector."

He also offered another suggestion to nudge students along an IT career path: Get famous IT personalities to Singapore to share their experience.

“Perhaps we can bring in some heroes in the field, people like Jack Ma from Alibaba or someone from Google, or maybe even some ‘black-hat’ experts to talk about Internet security. These will get kids excited and inspire them!”

Photos courtesy of Singapore Computer Society (SCS).

SCS IT Leader Awards 2016 
    IT Winners

    SCS IT Leader Award winners with the Minister: (From left) Mr Girish Kumar, Mr Royston Tay, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Ms Jessica Tan, Mr Chong Chee Wah, Mr Raniel Lee and Mr Foong Sew Bun.

  • IT Leader of the Year Award: Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore and Chairman of the IT Advisory Committee at Nanyang Polytechnic 
  • Hall of Fame Award: Mr Robert Chew, an angel investor and Managing Partner at Stream Global and iGlobe Partners 
  • Professional of the Year Award: Mr Foong Sew Bun, an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Lead Cloud Advisor (ASEAN, Korea, Japan) in IBM Cloud and Adjunct Professor at the National University of Singapore
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Mr Chong Chee Wah, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TreeBox Solutions 
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Mr Royston Tay, Vice President, General Manager of Messaging in Zendesk 
  • IT Youth Award: Mr Raniel Lee, a polytechnic graduate who launched Jobook Singapore to help part-timers earn better wages 
  • IT Youth Award: Mr Girish Kumar who developed "RevUP", a technology that automatically generates quiz questions for students and teachers by leveraging on cutting edge artificial intelligence algorithms

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