Be aware of scammers impersonating as IMDA officers and report any suspicious calls to the police. Please note that IMDA officers will never call you nor request for your personal information. For scam-related advice, please call the Anti-Scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to

Nurture, Develop & Certify - Three Steps to a Quality Infocomm Workforce

Mr Yatiman Yusof, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts - Speech at the 2nd PACE Symposium, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Mr Yatiman Yusof, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts - Speech at the 2nd PACE Symposium, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre
Singapore, 20 August 2004

Prof Alex Siow, Chairman of National Infocomm Competency Centre,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am glad to be here today at the 2nd Annual PACE Symposium in promoting Accreditation, Competency & Employability.

When the first symposium was held last year, the economic outlook was still overcast with uncertainty. But today, I am glad that the Singapore economy is showing strong recovery. On the whole, we are receiving news emanating from the industry about more positive economic outlook, improving employment rates and more optimistic business sentiments. I am sure every one of us here has felt the effects of better economic times.

Infocomm Job Market Outlook

Let me share with you some of the latest findings from the IDA Annual Infocomm Manpower Survey, conducted from December 2003 to April 2004. The survey showed that there is an increase in the Infocomm manpower pool, from 103,880 in 2003 to 104,320 in 2004. The level of retrenchment has also declined from 2,650 in year 2002 to 850 in year 2003. To take it a step further, the study also forecasted that the employment outlook is positive for 2004-2005, with about 4% growth per year in the number of Infocomm jobs.

The Hudson Report on Employment and HR trends released for this quarter (July-September 2004) also revealed similar findings for the Singapore manpower landscape. The report analysed the hiring expectations of employers and the findings showed a high level of anticipated hiring from the past two quarters, which is expected to sustain through this quarter as well. IT and Telecommunications companies are expected to lead the recruitment of permanent positions with 47% of them expecting a headcount addition.

Overall, the general employment outlook for Infocomm workers is positive. Having a continual supply of Infocomm manpower to meet the headcount requirements of the industries is important, but more critically, we would need a base of highly skilled professionals. Specifically, employers are looking for Infocomm capabilities in areas like database management, IT project management, Infocomm sales & marketing, quality assurance & management, and business continuity & disaster recovery. Therefore, we must upkeep the high quality of our Infocomm professionals in order to fill the demand. Our professionals must become assets to help their companies to exploit Infocomm for higher productivity and profitability.

In an effort to continuously step up the calibre of our Infocomm workforce, IDA has adopted a three-pronged approach - nurture our young talent, develop the capabilities of our workers, and certify the skills sets of our professionals.

Nurturing Young Infocomm Talent

We have to constantly inject new blood into our pool of Infocomm talent to keep it vibrant and competitive. In order to groom the next generation, IDA launched the National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS) in March this year with the goal of giving out 90 scholarships over 5 years.

This scholarship is unique in two ways. First, it places a strong emphasis on industry attachment with the sponsoring Infocomm companies. This is to provide the scholars with exposure to real work situations and issues, and to help them better apply what they had learnt in school. Second, the scholars do not need to serve any bond with IDA though, there is still an obligation to serve the infocomm industry. This means that the Infocomm industry will benefit directly with the entry of fresh talent into the job market.

For the first intake, 12 scholars are selected, of whom 8 are on full scholarships and 4 final year students are on industry attachments scholarships. Congratulations to all of you. I am sure your parents and teachers are proud of you.

In ensuring that these scholars have a solid industry grounding, we are privileged to have the support of 7 established industry partners for the inaugural year for the National Infocomm Scholarship programme. I am happy to acknowledge our 7 pioneer sponsoring companies. They are Computer Associates, Frontline Technologies, IBM, Microsoft, NCS, Oracle and Singapore Computer Systems.

For these sponsoring companies, they have recognised how the National Infocomm Scholarship programme can complement their strategies in manpower development and human resource management. By attracting budding talent to take up the scholarships, the companies can place them under the tutelage of a mentorship programme as part of their attachment stint and groom them into valuable assets for the companies.

To ensure that the Infocomm industry continues to benefit from the new talent pool, IDA is currently seeking joint industry sponsorship and will be calling for applications for the next intake of scholars. I would like to encourage more companies to step forward and join hands with IDA in nurturing our young Infocomm talent through this programme.

Developing Infocomm Capabilities

The second approach is to further develop the capabilities of the current Infocomm workforce in emerging technologies. One initiative that IDA has undertaken is Java Black Belt Programme under a partnership with SUN Microsystems. This programme was launched in January 2003 to train 36 aspiring IT architects in the latest Java technology, so as to increase their expertise in areas such as High Performance Computing, Storage and Wireless applications. These professionals are already in the employment of the participating companies.

Today, we have 10 participating companies, including NCS, PSA and Starhub, that have sent some of their most promising staff to participate in this programme. 19 Infocomm professionals have either completed their attachment training or are on their way to becoming Java architects.

The participating companies have found it valuable to send their employees for this programme. Not only did the employees gained the chance to learn from the best companies in the world and acquire the latest knowledge & best practices, their attachment also provided the opportunity for them to tap into the global network of Java technology communities. Notwithstanding that the participants were away from their work for a few months, their enlightened employers saw this programme as an investment that would ultimately benefit their companies in the longer term.

Interestingly, we have a participant in the Java Black Belt who has gone a step further to apply what he has learnt to the area of community service. Mr Fred Tan, a candidate from the Singapore Polytechnic observed that the current 'meet-the-people' session with the Member of Parliament (MP) of his constituency can be very labourious as most of the work is done manually. This includes the recording of cases and the following up tasks which include paperwork like handling appeal letters.

He then went on to develop a wireless data management system for the MP of Pasir Ris West Constituency for his use during the weekly Meet-The-People (MPS) sessions. The system enables the recording of the cases, drafting of the letters, and filing to be done more efficiently. The system also has built-in features to enhance the work processes involved, such as queue management via SMS, centralisation and management of appeals records, thereby allowing collation of statistical reports for analysis and planning. This has effectively cut down on unnecessary waiting time, and has helped the MP to spend more quality time with the residents and better attend to their needs.

This example shows us how we can creatively apply Infocomm technology in a myriad of ways to make it work, when we have competent knowledge and proficient skills.

Certifying Infocomm Skills for Quality-Class Manpower

Our Infocomm manpower has attained a certain level of quality today but how do we benchmark these skills sets? How does an Infocomm professional know how his skills are measured against his peers? Skills certification is the way forward, for Infocomm professionals to ascertain their competency level.

To help Infocomm specialists stay ahead of the competition, IDA believes in the value of skills certification and has worked with the National Infocomm Competency Centre (NICC) for the accreditation of Infocomm courses. Today, NICC has accredited the certifications of more than 4,500 Infocomm professionals in areas such as project management, applications development and networking. This is a 60% jump in certifications compared to 2,800 in 2002. Such Infocomm professionals command higher employability as their certification serves as a hallmark of quality that gives credibility to their special skills and capabilities, allowing them to benchmark their skills against the best in the industry.

In addition to the current suite of certifications for our Infocomm professionals, as Prof Alex Siow has mentioned earlier, the web services certification is also ready to be rolled out this quarter. Web services is one of the key areas of growth for Infocomm and the certification will provide individuals and organizations with an endorsement of proficiency in web services. This is also in line with IDA's WEAVE Programme, whereby one of its key charters is to build a pool of certified web services professionals.

Lastly, let me share with you the story of Mr Ong Kah Hin, as an encouragement. Mr Ong was asked to leave his company after it underwent a cost cutting exercise in December 2002. Upon receiving the notice, Mr Ong decided that upgrading his skills through further training and skills certification was the only way to ensure that he remains employable. As a result, he signed up for a Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) certification course and just before he completed his training, he managed to land himself a job. Since June 2003, Mr Ong has been serving as a Senior Manager with a telecommunications company.


While Singapore must ensure that we have a sufficient pool of infocomm professionals, we must also ensure that our manpower is of a sufficiently high quality to compete with talents from around the world. This is especially relevant when Singapore needs to move up the value chain in order for our economy to remain competitive. As the saying goes, "It is better to grow and keep a strong army than to have a large troop of outmoded forces."

With this, I would like to wish the National Infocomm Competency Centre every success in organising the PACE symposium 2004.

Thank you.