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Job Prospects Looking Up for Infocomm Graduands

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Graduation Address - Ngee Ann Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony, School of Infocomm Technology

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Graduation Address - Ngee Ann Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony, School of Infocomm Technology
Singapore, 19 August 2004

Mr. Tan Hup Foi, Chairman, Ngee Ann Polytechnic Council,
Mr. Wee Tew Lim, Deputy Chairman, Ngee Ann Polytechnic Council,
Mr. Chia Mia Chiang, Principal, Ngee Ann Polytechnic,
Council and Advisory Committee Members,
Distinguished Guests,
Graduands of the School of Infocomm,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good Morning. I am very happy to be here to join you on your special day. It is very exciting to embark on the next stage of life, be it serving National Service, entering the world of work, starting a new business or furthering your education.

2. This year's graduates are fortunate. You are graduating at a time of improving economic prospects. The economy is well on its way to recovery this year, registering 12.5% GDP growth1 in the second quarter. The strong performance has led to an upward revision in the official GDP growth forecast from the initial 5.5 - 7.5% to 8 - 9% for the year.

3. Job prospects in the Infocomm industry are also looking good. Let me share with you more encouraging findings from the latest Hudson Report on Employment and HR Trends in Singapore for July-September. The Singapore business community's hiring optimism continues to grow and this bodes well for job seekers. More than 600 companies were surveyed in this study and 45%2 of them expected to hire additional staff this quarter. You may like to know that this percentage of companies intending to add headcount is the highest recorded for more than three years.

4. Out of the 45% of the companies intending to hire extra staff, almost half of them were contributed by the Infocomm sector. Specifically, the report showed that companies in the IT & Communications sector led in permanent employment expectation at 47%. Engineering, Operations and Technical sector followed closely at 45%.

5. Underscoring this positive outlook is the surge in companies' optimism in achieving strong performance in 2004.

Infocomm is Everywhere

6. Business cycles come and go, but Infocomm technology is here to stay. Infocomm industry revenue is set to grow by 5 - 7%3 in 2004 and by 7 - 9% in 2005. This is according to Infocomm companies surveyed by IDA from March to June this year.

7. An Infocomm graduate need not work in the Infocomm industry only. Indeed, only half of Infocomm manpower in Singapore work in the sector. The other half use their skills and expertise to help companies in other sectors manage operations, streamline processes and network with their partners. Indeed, we now see Infocomm at work in almost every sector - logistics, finance & banking, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and more. This means that, as an Infocomm graduate, you can choose to work in almost any sector. This means choices, options and opportunities! Parents, you should be glad that your child had chosen the right choice of study, with good job prospects and opportunities.

8. With the use of Infocomm technologies in new areas, like radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, business process outsourcing, digital media, entertainment, bio-medical sciences, an Infocomm graduate who is willing to acquire new skills will also get to participate in new growth areas, like digital post-production, bio-informatics, RFID deployment.

9. Many of you might have read about India and even China becoming major centres for business process outsourcing (BPO). Put simply, BPO refers to the process where services previously performed by employees in a company are now performed by another company whose employees may be situated in a lower-cost country. One example is call centres. Instead of a Singaporean answering your calls to a helpdesk, the call can be answered by a person in India.

10. Can Singapore and Singaporeans compete in BPO? The answer is yes, but not in all BPO activities. Singapore is not cost-effective for large call centres requiring hundreds of operators. But Singapore is cost-effective for higher-end services requiring a high level of reliability, trust and quality, like ensuring compliance with financial regulations. Large companies like Citibank, Credit Suisse First Boston, ExxonMobil and BASF locate their shared services operations centres in Singapore, precisely because Singapore has the right combination of good people, reliable infrastructure and sound legislative framework.

11. Singapore cannot compete on the basis of absolute cost levels. But we can compete in terms of value for money - our workers may cost more, but they deliver even higher value. In a recent study by AT Kearney, Singapore was ranked 5th as a BPO location4. In other words, even if we look at BPO in general, Singapore is among the top 5 locations. What is even more gratifying is that Singapore is recognized as a good location for higher value activities. For those who live in the Eastern part of Singapore, you may have noticed that there are lots of big establishments such as banks and healthcare centres located there. IDA aims to bring in more of such big establishments to set up their operations in Singapore.

12. Your education in Ngee Ann has given you a firm foundation. The Director of your School spoke about the broad-based training that you have received, and the elements of innovation and enterprise you have experienced. What you need is to build on this firm foundation, so that you never become irrelevant. I know that many of you are members of the Student Chapter of the Singapore Computer Society, the professional association for Infocomm professionals. Once you leave Ngee Ann, do not let your association with the society lapse - take up membership as a full-ledge professional. The Singapore Computer Society provides a ready network of like-minded people who can help you plan your career and network. You may even find your future life partner there!

13. IDA is also there to help you upgrade. The Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme (CITREP) aims to develop the skills sets of our workforce in emerging, critical and specialised Infocomm skills. Skills in areas such as Infocomm Security, Wireless, Web Services, IT Project Management, Networking and Database Management enjoy high demand among companies in the Infocomm industry.

14. I understand that lecturers Mr Andy Ng & Mr Anson Chiew had recently returned from a 7-month programme at SUN Microsystems in USA. The attachment with SUN Microsystems is actually part of the Java Black Belt Programme under the IDA's Infocomm Training and Attachment (iTA) Scheme. The scheme aims to develop the capabilities of the current Infocomm workforce in emerging technologies. Other than SUN Microsystems, IDA also works very closely with industry partners such as SoftwareAG, Motorola & Intel for similar programmes, so that Infocomm professionals in Singapore will have the opportunity to undergo training attachment with top-notched multinational corporations.

15. In closing, I wish to congratulate all of you for having chosen Infocomm as your career. Let today be the start of many years of challenging and satisfying experiences in Infocomm and in life.

16. Thank you.


1 Economic Survey of Singapore, Second Quarter, 2004, Ministry of Trade & Industry

2 The Hudson Report - Employment & HR Trends, Singapore, July - September 2004, Hudson

3 Annual Survey on Infocomm Industry for 2003, IDA

4 Source: AT Kearney 2004 Offshore Location Attractiveness Index

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