By Kami Navarro
Singapore’s tech and media sector continues to be a bright spot in our economy, with the Infocomm Media sector consistently outperforming overall Gross Domestic Product growth in the past five years. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it continued to grow by 4.8%, one of the few sectors in Singapore that did so.
Accordingly, as the sector grows, it will need to be powered by the right talent. Tech jobs continue to be in high demand across the economy. The number of tech professionals in Singapore has grown to more than 200,000 today, with the number of tech jobs increasing by about 10,000 annually in the last 3 years.
Technology has also impacted the media sector and tapping on technology will allow our local creative talent to connect to global audiences. For example, today, the global creator economy is worth USD 104 billion and is predicted to grow to a trillion-dollar industry by 2026. Reasons for this growth include streaming and subscriptions, digital broadcasts and social media. In architecting Singapore’s digital future, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) set forth several initiatives in 2021 to continually build a strong core of homegrown talent and nurture the country’s next generation of tech and media leaders.
As we bid 2021 goodbye, read on to revisit the fresh and fruitful opportunities made possible by these initiatives.
Filling up the 5G talent pool
High speeds, low latencies and greater bandwidth—these are just a few of the benefits that 5G offers. With the pandemic fast-tracking digitalisation, 5G is expected to become a key enabler of Singapore’s digital future, with applications in many areas from cloud gaming to industry 4.0.
Dedicated to developing Singapore’s 5G future, in 2019, IMDA and the National Research Foundation announced a S$40 million fund to support 5G trials in novel use cases like maritime operations and smart estates. Building upon these earlier efforts, IMDA announced a new S$30 million fund to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions by enterprises.
To support the influx of 5G projects, IMDA is partnering with companies like Singtel and institutes of higher learning like the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to hire and train 500 5G professionals over the next two years.
In another partnership with NUS and SP, the Singapore 5G & Telecoms Academy is set to build a pool of talent in 5G and emerging technologies, with over 500 courses to choose from. The academy sets out to attract and build talent capable of operating and maintaining 5G networks, as well as develop new 5G services. As jobs in the sector increase, the Academy has successfully equipped over 3000 Singaporeans with the relevant 5G skills for jobs in cloud computing, data analytics and software development. Through these efforts, it’s clear that 5G isn’t just the future—it’s already the reality now.
Ensuring tech opportunities for all
With digital tools quickly becoming indispensable in just about every sector, IMDA is committed to ensuring that Singapore has a steady pipeline of aspiring tech talent through initiatives like the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA).
As the name suggests, TeSA offers various programmes that support Singaporeans who are keen to acquire tech skills and remain competitive in a digital economy. These programmes cater to professionals at all stages in their career, from fresh graduates who require on-the-job training to mid-careerist, and offer exciting opportunities at tech companies, such as Singtel, Grab and PayPal.
Consider the case of Mrs Adilah, a proud mother of two and founder of web design company Poised Creative. Through the TeSA Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), she transitioned from web design into a successful career in user experience (UX) through a User Experience Design Immersive at General Assembly—all while juggling family responsibilities. With support from TIPP, Mrs Adilah had the opportunity to gain the knowledge and guidance required to thrive in a new space.
Similarly providing new opportunities for aspiring tech professionals, through this year’s SG Women in Tech Corporate Pledge Initiative, at least 51 companies in the city-state have pledged their support to create a conducive and supportive environment that can attract, retain and develop more women tech professionals. Currently, with women making up 41 percent of Singapore’s tech workforce, the Republic has some of the highest proportion of women in tech in Southeast Asia—and even the globe.
Planting the seeds of tech talent
To ensure a strong Singapore core of dedicated tech and media talent , the Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship continues to support those who wish to pursue tech and media-related studies at the undergraduate or postgraduate levels. A valuable industry scholarship, students will have the opportunity to chart their career paths in any tech or media role after they complete their studies, as well as enjoy support for professional development such as through networking and mentorships.
Last September, 147 recipients were awarded the scholarship to pursue their studies in areas ranging from cybersecurity to filmmaking. They join a distinguished set of past SG:D scholarship alumni—who remain connected with one another and new recipients—including Ms Nur Syakirah Bte Mohd Said.
After earning her Bachelor of Science in Information System Management from the Singapore Management University—graduating magna cum laude, to boot—Ms Syakirah joined the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson under their competitive Technology Leadership and Development Programme.
Another notable recipient is Ms Low Ser En, who earned Singapore its first-ever British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award in 2018 for producing a short animated film on climate change called Poles Apart. Under the former Media Education Scholarship (MES), Ms Low completed her Masters in Producing from the National Film and Television School with the support of mm2 Entertainment, later serving as an Associate Producer at the company.
Reflecting upon the past year, Singapore can rest easy knowing that the nation’s digital future is in good hands. Through talent initiatives such as TeSA and scholarships, IMDA continues to provide aspiring Singaporean talent the opportunity to be skilled in tech and media, as well as provide our future industry leaders opportunities for growth globally.
 15 May 2021, “The State of the Creator Economy (2021)”, Influencer Marketing Hub
Find out more about our year in 2021: Check out how we are building Singapore’s digital economy to be globally competitive, and how we are ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.