Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech SCS Gala Dinner & IT Leader Awards 2001
Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech
SCS Gala Dinner & IT Leader Awards 2001
Singapore, 24 February 2001
Mr Alex Siow, President, Singapore Computer Society
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
1 I am very happy to be here with you tonight, at this Gala Dinner & IT Leader Awards 2001 Presentation. Some of you were probably at last year's IT Leader Awards too, and if you were, you may recall that I had taken the opportunity to announce my Ministry's manpower development strategies under the Infocomm 21 Masterplan. Our aim is to develop a sufficient pool of high calibre infocomm manpower, as well as an infocomm-savvy workforce which can compete successfully in the tough global market place. Tonight, I want to take a few minutes to share with you what we have done so far and how we plan to meet the challenges ahead.
2 The manpower strategies involve a three-pronged approach. They are firstly, enhancing the environment to nurture an infocomm-savvy workforce, secondly, attracting and retaining international talents, and thirdly, establishing Singapore as the e-Learning hub for the region. Let me now highlight some of our achievements in these three areas.
Nurturing an Infocomm-Savvy Workforce
3 In the area of nurturing an infocomm-savvy workforce, the institutes of higher learning are upgrading their teaching capabilities through collaboration with overseas institutions and industry. This will help ensure that our infocomm curricula and education is on par with that of leading international institutions. Some collaborative projects include the exchange in students and faculty members between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the well-known Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, and the setting up of the SUN-NTU Service Provider Competency Centre. NTU also has close collaboration with CISCO, which in turn resulted in the establishment of the CISCO Academy Training Centre (CATC). To date, the CATC has trained 11,000 students from the ASEAN countries, including 2,000 from Singapore. Temasek and Ngee Ann Polytechnics have incorporated CISCO's Certified Networking Associate as part of their infocomm course curriculum.
4 We are also addressing the needs of the general workforce. This is done together with NTUC, through the Skill Re-development Programme for Infocomm, which was launched last year. This programme will provide older and less educated members of the workforce with basic infocomm skills such as computing, office automation, workgroup computing, webpage design, multimedia, and so on. It is encouraging to know that the SRP, together with the IT Power training programme, which started in 1996 with the same objectives, had benefited 15,000 trainees last year.
Attract and Retain International Infocomm Talents
5 Secondly, attracting and retaining international infocomm talent. The Ministry of Manpower has been very supportive, and has set up a special queue to facilitate and expedite the processing of employment passes for foreign infocomm professionals. The IDA is also working with 4 established companies who have infocomm training centres overseas to source for international talents.
Establish Singapore as the e-Learning Hub for the Region
6 Let me now move to the third area: establishing Singapore as the e-learning hub in the region. Here, we have initiated several projects to develop the necessary infrastructure. One project is the Global Distance Learning Centre. It was set up in June last year with the Institute of Public Administration and Management, and provides synchronous and asynchronous training to third-world countries. The Centre has the capability of providing satellite linkups to 13 countries. Another milestone was the development of Institute of Technical Education's e-Tutor system, which is the first e-Learning standards-based infrastructural project in Singapore. This involves the implementation of e-learning technical standards, to enable communication between ITE's e-learning campuses. Upon completion, this system will link up 11 ITE campuses, with extended links to various ITE-approved training centres island-wide.
7 The government will continue to work with the industry to put in place a comprehensive e-learning infrastructure and develop online content. We will also devote adequate manpower and financial resources to attract and foster alliances with world-class e-learning service providers. And, as always, we need support from our industry partners to make this happen.
Challenge and Opportunities
8 As you can see, we made good progress last year. But more remains to be done if we are to become a dynamic global infocomm capital and Info-society. We project that Singapore will need 250,000 infocomm manpower by 2010. At the same time, we must help 75% of our workforce become infocomm-savvy, in order to raise productivity and help improve our quality of life. Attracting sufficient and quality infocomm professionals and nurturing an infocomm-savvy workforce will to be challenges for us. As more businesses start adopting e-commerce systems to offer online services, the demand for skilled infocomm professionals and savvy users will accelerate. Without a ready pool of competent and productive infocomm professionals, the quality and timeliness of IT projects may suffer. This will affect Singapore's drive to be a global infocomm capital.
Importance of Training & Certification
9 The importance of training, re-training and skills upgrading to meet the demands of critical sectors - cannot be over emphasized. For infocomm professionals, attaining professional certification is important to enhance their competencies and employability. For non-infocomm professionals transiting to an infocomm career, certification is one of the tools to facilitate their entry. Finally, competent infocomm expertise with internationally recognised certification serves to attract foreign investments as well as international talents to Singapore.
10 Regardless of age and industry specialisation, members of our workforce can acquire a body of knowledge through certification to speed up job advancement. Spear-headed by the Singapore Computer Society, the National Infocomm Skills Certification and Recognition framework provides a basis to plan for the certification and recognition needs of both infocomm professionals and users.
Formation of NICC
11 This National Infocomm Skills Certification and Recognition framework will be largely industry driven. I am pleased to announce the completion of this national framework and the formation of the National Infocomm Competency Centre (NICC) to administer this framework. The Singapore Computer Society, Ministry of Manpower and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, together with industry and academia, will be working closely in the coming months to formalise the direction which the NICC should take. The first set of certification to be offered under the framework covers Internet Development, Security Management and e-Business.
12 Having a National Infocomm Competency Centre and the framework in place is an important first step. The government and industry will need to continue the efforts in driving lifelong learning and certification for infocomm professionals and users. E-learning will be strongly encouraged as a new learning platform to increase learning capacity and flexibility.
13 The infocomm lifelong learning initiative and related certification programmes were introduced to help people realise the benefits of acquiring infocomm skills. Apart from existing infocomm professionals, we are also reaching out to homemakers, retirees and the general workforce. For example, today we have the PC Driving Test and IT Project Management Certification Programme, administered by the Singapore Computer Society.
14 Demand for infocomm talents and skills will continue to grow. Industry professionals and the non-infocomm workforce will need to adapt to thrive in an economy increasingly dependent on information and communication technology. We cannot afford to be complacent. Continuous learning and attaining certification is crucial to help our workforce become more productive, competitive and sought after in the job market. The government will continue the close and productive collaboration with industry groupings such as the Singapore Computer Society and the Infocomm Manpower Committee, as well as our industry partners to strive for greater people excellence!
15 On this note, I wish you all an enjoyable evening and another exciting year ahead for the infocomm sector in Singapore.