23 March 2007 - Opening Speech By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At The Singapore Computer Society IT Leader Awards And Gala Dinner 2007.
Opening Speech by Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts, At The Singapore Computer Society IT Leader Awards And Gala Dinner 2007 on 23 March 2007.
Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, President of SCS,
Members of SCS,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I would like to first congratulate the Singapore Computer Society on its 40th anniversary. SCS has certainly done very well over the past forty years. From a small group of believers in 1967, SCS has grown into an industry body with a present membership of 23,000.
2. What is even more significant is that over these 40 years, SCS has been playing an increasingly pivotal role in helping Singapore establish our leadership in the infocomm sector. SCS has contributed to the growth of the Singapore infocomm sector by nurturing and strengthening the capabilities of our infocomm professionals.
3. For the first time, revenue from Singapore’s infocomm sector is expected to cross the $40 billion mark for 2006. Much of the credit for this good showing must go to Singapore’s infocomm professionals. You are the people with the ideas, innovations and dedication to energise this sector of our economy.
Singapore's Current Infocomm Landscape
4. Today the infocomm sector is experiencing a boom unlike anything we have seen since the heady dot-com days. As early as 2004, Singapore’s infocomm manpower pool exceeded the number during the dot-com boom year of 2000. By 2005, our manpower pool hit an all-time high of 111,400. Recent media reports also pointed to a surge in the recruitment of infocomm professionals in Singapore. The Hudson Report from Jan-Mar 07 forecasted a high demand for IT professionals with 17% of vacancies. Banking IT specialists are particularly sought after as more banks locate operations centres in Singapore. The future looks very bright for infocomm professionals.
5. Today, the business landscape has changed dramatically because of infocomm. Innovation and speed-to-market have become crucial to success. Infocomm has created an interconnected world with information and services easily accessible to all. Realising this, more countries are developing their infocomm competency, promoting infocomm industries and seeking international infocomm talent. We will come under increased pressure if we do not expand the depth and breadth of the capabilities of our infocomm professionals to better serve the industry.
6. For Singapore to maintain our economic prospects, we must ensure our infocomm professionals move up the value chain to meet increasingly sophisticated demand from businesses. Infocomm professionals today must acquire not just deeper professional and technical skills, but business skills as well. To become globally competitive and entrepreneurial techno-strategists, the new generation of infocomm professionals have to be well-versed in multiple disciplines. They must deepen their knowledge of the ever-more complex business environment in the domains which they operate in. So, how do we help to develop the depth and breadth of capabilities of infocomm professionals in Singapore?
Certification & Manpower Initiatives
7. We can do so by adopting three strategic approaches. Firstly, there is certification. The SCS has been actively developing the capabilities of infocomm talent together with the IDA. For instance, recognising the need for employers to be able to identify competent IT project managers, SCS and IDA launched the “Certification in IT Project Management” or the CITPM, in short, in 1998. Most recently, it also launched the “Certificate on Outsourcing Management for IT”. I understand this is the world’s first IT outsourcing certification. Such national certification efforts will ensure that Singapore’s manpower is groomed to achieve global standards and can be at the forefront of the industry.
8. Towards this end, a National Infocomm Competency Framework (NICF) has been developed by the IDA in partnership with the WDA and industry players to help guide, empower and encourage our infocomm professionals to upgrade their capabilities and competencies in line with industry and sectoral needs. A National Infocomm Competency Academy (NICA) involving a consortium of Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will also be established to ensure the availability of quality courses aligned to the Framework.
9. As infocomm becomes more strategic, mission critical and ingrained into various sectors, there is also a need to ensure that the professionals who design, deliver, commission and audit the increasingly complex infocomm systems are suitably qualified. Certifications alone will not be sufficient.
10. Secondly, I encourage the infocomm industry to look towards raising the professional standing of its practitioners by setting up professional associations, such as in information security. We should then link our professional bodies with international counterparts. This would enhance the international recognition of our infocomm professional manpower, and positively differentiate ourselves in the global market.
Formation of the Infocomm Manpower Council
11. Thirdly, we have to make sure that Singapore has a sustainable strategy for building a strong infocomm talent pool. The IDA’s iN2015 masterplan expects an additional 80,000 infocomm jobs to be created by 2015.
12. In this respect, I am pleased to announce that the IDA has formed the Infocomm Manpower Council (IMC) which will be industry-led. The IMC will work together with the government to build the capabilities of our next generation of infocomm professionals to spearhead the growth of the industry. Chaired by the President of SCS, Mr Lee, the IMC will provide advice on developing competencies in key economic sectors, and support the development of NICF to reshape the infocomm manpower profile.
Developing the Youths & Infocomm Scholarships
13. We must also continue to invest in our youth. I am happy to share that young Singaporeans are showing interest and promise in making infocomm their preferred choice. Last year, IDA embarked on a Student Outreach programme, to develop infocomm appreciation and encourage innovation from young. Since then, more than 130 infocomm clubs have been established in primary and secondary schools, with more than 5,000 students enrolled as members.
14. We have also expanded the National Infocomm Scholarship programme. Today, it is supported by 20 leading infocomm and infocomm-user organisations which offer the scholars global industrial attachment opportunities before taking them in as employees. In order to raise the standards of our young infocomm talent, we have also launched three integrated Masters programmes, featuring tie-ups between local universities and renowned foreign ones, such as Carnegie Mellon University and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Increased Broadband and ICT Adoption
15. A recent study by PriceWaterhouseCooper of 11 global cities showed that while Singapore is the top choice location for business, we are ranked last in the category of Technology IQ and Innovation, which took into account the business broadband penetration among other things.
16. The study’s findings are not flattering for Singapore. But we must take the rankings seriously. Where we are losing the edge, it is high time for us to make greater effort to correct the shortcomings. If we fail to recognize what others see as our weaknesses, then we are in danger of being overtaken in the high-stake race between cities to stay attractive in global competition.
17. Indeed the need to invest in our ICT infrastructure and to promote the wider application of the technology is on top of MICA and IDA’s agenda. We are convinced that we must move fast to address technological changes and commit ourselves to boosting the use of IT throughout our economy. This was the reason for IDA to launch the iN2015 study in 2005.
18. Under the iN2015 masterplan, the Government is developing the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure, or NGNII to support the next phase of economic development. The first component of the NGNII, is the nationwide Wireless Broadband Network or Wireless@SG, which has already given consumers and businesses free access to some 1,300 hotspots across Singapore today. By September this year, there will be 5,000 hotspots to serve consumers and businesses. I would like to highlight that Wireless@SG not only benefits individuals, but is also a platform that allows businesses to provide new services. Just before Chinese New Year, I went to Chinatown to see how a bak-kua shop was using Wireless@SG to provide faster and better customer service with wireless order and Nets payment terminals. Wireless@SG offers endless opportunities for innovative business applications.
19. The wired component of the NGNII, the Next Generation National Broadband Network, or NBN is envisioned to offer ultra-high speeds of 1 Gbps or more, with the aim of providing affordable broadband for both individuals and businesses. To date, the range and quality of standard of broadband access services offered by service providers have improved. Broadband access prices have fallen by 37% in 2006 alone. Over the last 12 months, household broadband adoption increased by a healthy 11% to about 64% early this year. We want to reach 75 percent by year-end. By 2015, we want to raise this to 90 percent. Broadband is set to become a staple communication tool for Singaporeans anywhere, anytime and with any device.
20. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage businesses, especially the SMEs, to leverage on infocomm technologies on a larger scale. This would help them achieve the necessary competitive advantage and build up critical mass of ICT users. It will also address this perception of Singapore businesses not being progressive in using ICT technology. Infocomm technology can help to extend SMEs’ market reach as well as improve operational and time-to-market efficiencies for their products. To promote such business adoption of infocomm, IDA will study how to help SMEs aggregate common needs such as in HR, finance and IT systems. Such aggregation will result in economies of scale and enable more competitive pricing in the provision of infocomm-enabled shared services to SMEs. Singapore's NGNII and emerging technologies like grid computing will also be tapped to enable SMEs to share common resources for more complex and bandwidth intensive tasks such as financial simulations and 3D rendering.
21. In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the outstanding infocomm professionals who will be receiving the IT Leaders Awards later this evening. Your innovation, passion and commitment have made a mark in the infocomm industry. You are the role models for the ICT community and I wish you every success in all your endeavours.
22. Please enjoy the rest of the evening. Thank you.