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Preparing Next-Generation Infocomm Talent To Be Industry-Ready

12 April 2008 - Address By Ms Tham Ai Chyn, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry & Cluster Development), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At the 11th National Olympiad In Informatics (NOI) Prize-Giving Ceremony, National University of Singapore

Address By Ms Tham Ai Chyn, Assistant Chief Executive (Industry & Cluster Development), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, As the Guest of Honour, At the 11th National Olympiad In Informatics (NOI) Prize-Giving Ceremony On 12 April 2008, 12.10pm, At The School of Computing, National University of Singapore

Professor Ooi Beng Chin, Dean, School of Computing, NUS,
Mr Aaron Tan, Chairman, National Olympiad in Informatics,
Teachers and students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon.


1. Firstly, let me congratulate all the winners of the 11th National Olympiad in Informatics (or NOI) here today. Keep up the good work. As winners of NOI (which is one of the 12 challenges under Singapore’s largest National Infocomm Competition or known as NIC), you are now a step closer to the possibility of representing Singapore in the International Olympiad of Informatics or IOI.

2. While competitions are cool and exciting, I do encourage you to also think further beyond the prizes, to something longer-term about your future career at the same time. I would like to urge you to think about the skills you have acquired in constructive algorithmic techniques and creative problem-solving. And see how you can use your talent to groom yourself into an infocomm professional, and be part of a multi-billion dollar industry.

3. You will be pleased to know that the infocomm sector has been growing from strength to strength. From an almost non-existent industry in the early 80s, it has now grown to be a S$45.4 billion industry registering revenue growth rate of 7% to 10% over the past two years alone.

4. This is because infocomm has increasingly become an integral part of our lives. Imagine a day without infocomm - which means no emails, no online chats, no mobile smses - we are cut off from our friends, and from the world. Today, Singapore is one of the most connected cities in the world with direct internet connectivity to more than 100 countries. By 2015, we will be able to leverage pervasive ultra-high speed connectivity on the Next Generation National Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN).

5. All these are helping to grow Singapore into a competitive infocomm hub that is abuzz with activities. Singapore is now a digital cinema hub and network operations centre for key players like Technicolor, offering digital cinema service and related management solution capabilities to the motion picture industry in the Asia-Pacific. Globally, the country is also inking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oman and Qatar, amongst many others, to further drive trade, investment, business and technology partnerships.

6. What do all these mean to you? Simply translated, it means that there are a lot of new growth areas and employment opportunities in the infocomm industry. According to the 2007 Annual Survey on Infocomm Manpower, the number of infocomm manpower employed grew by 8.9% to reach 130,400 last year. Job areas in demand include Project Management, Business Process Outsourcing Management and those in Interactive Digital Media to name a few.

Industry-Ready Infocomm Professionals Drive Stronger Economic Growth

7. Singapore has the vision to be the world’s number one in harnessing infocomm to add value to the economy and society. To make that happen, Singapore needs to identify and groom a pool of industry-ready infocomm professionals who can innovatively use infocomm to improve the business processes and provide dynamic infocomm solutions to the rest of the world.

8. When it comes to identifying good infocomm manpower, we start from home-ground. Look around you. I am proud to note that by participating in the NOI or NIC, you have given yourself the opportunity to be Singapore’s pipeline of infocomm talent.

9. Our job next is to groom you into highly-valued infocomm professionals, who possess not only good infocomm technical skills but are able to demonstrate the best practices in business solutioning.

10. You will be glad to know that you will be benefiting from a suite of infocomm manpower development programmes over the next three to five years. IDA and the industry have invested a further S$70 million to deepen the technical capabilities and enhance the global competitiveness of our infocomm workforce.

11. How are we going to achieve this? For instance, from this year, top 20% of NUS, NTU and SMU infocomm undergraduates can participate in the Enhanced Learning in Infocomm Technology Programme (or “ELITe”) to enhance their infocomm capabilities through the acquisition of practical infocomm skills and business domain knowledge. They will be offered industry attachments, project work opportunities and infocomm certification courses to boost their technical capabilities and acquire deeper understanding of business issues of key economic sectors.

12. The renowned National Infocomm Scholarship (or NIS) offers the unique opportunity for scholars to be nurtured by leading MNCs, local companies and government agencies during their course of study. This would be done in many ways, including mentorship with companies and through overseas work attachments of up to 6 months. The scholarship also allows top performing undergraduate scholars to move on to 1-year sponsored postgraduate studies. At the end of their studies, all NIS students would go on to serve their bond with the sponsored organisation. All these will help train you to become industry-ready, infocomm-savvy and globally competitive infocomm professionals or techno-strategists, even before you graduate.

13. This is only the beginning. Career progression possibilities are huge. Your infocomm skills are in high demand across almost all economic sectors of the economy. For instance, a project manager can have as many as 10 different career paths to choose from. You could be one working in a bank, ensuring that the system, customised for a banking and financial environment, is available and secure. Or you could be in a healthcare organisation executing a new alert system which allows doctors to get lab results quickly, for critical decision-making in mode of treatment.


14. So students, hold this thought. The future is infocomm. Programming is not about writing a piece of code. It is an important foundation that you need to make a difference in the way we live, work and play. Can you imagine a day without SMS because of a software defect in your mobile phone? (I think you understand the feeling of being ‘handicap’ better than I do).

15. On this note, I urge you to choose infocomm as your career. Be a player, take on the challenge and contribute to the success of this multi-billion dollar infocomm industry.

16. Thank you.