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Infocomm Talent To Power Singapore's Economic Growth

29 February 2008 - Speech By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At The Singapore Computer Society (SCS) Gala Dinner And IT Leader Awards 2008, Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Speech By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At The Singapore Computer Society (SCS) Gala Dinner And IT Leader Awards 2008 on 29 February 2008, Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Mr Wilson Tan, President of SCS,
Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, Immediate Past President of SCS,
Members of SCS,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.


1. It is my pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate the best in infocomm innovation and leadership with the annual IT Leader Awards. Now into its 12th year, the IT Leader Awards has continued to garner strong participation from the industry with a bumper crop of close to 40 nominations. This shows that the IT industry is dynamic, innovative and pervasive. It is also on the upswing.

Strong Infocomm Growth

2. Indeed, infocomm is increasingly pervasive in our lives. Infocomm usage in Singapore is reaching new heights. The household broadband penetration rate has increased from 61.1% in December 2006 to 77.1% in December 2007. Mobile penetration rate has reached 122.5% as at December 2007. According to Infocomm Development Authority’s (IDA) 2007 Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage by Enterprises, business broadband penetration also has increased from 49% in 2006 to 52% in 2007. 

3. The infocomm sector had a healthy growth last year. Preliminary estimates by the IDA indicate growth of between 6% to 8% in Value-Added from the infocomm sector and growth of 7% to 10% in revenue1. The number of infocomm jobs also grew by 11% (or 13,300) in 2007.

4. Our pool of infocomm manpower in 2007 also hit an all-time high of 130,400. The quality of infocomm professionals, in terms of educational qualification, also continued to be high, with more than 80% of infocomm manpower having tertiary qualifications.

Need for Well-rounded Infocomm Professionals

5. Globally, there is increasing demand for infocomm talent - people who possess both the technical skills and the business knowledge. The next generation of infocomm professionals has to possess more than just sound infocomm skills. They must also be well-equipped with domain knowledge of different businesses to be able to offer solutions and services primed to the needs of each specific business environment.

6. Singapore is already seeing such talent in the making. IDA’s 2007 Annual Infocomm Manpower Survey shows that there is a shift in the employment of infocomm professionals, from those with pure technical expertise to those with business and management skills as well. For instance, the number of infocomm professionals in ‘Project, IT and Business Process Outsourcing Management’ grew from 11,700 in 2006 to 24,200 in 2007.

7. We need to adopt a new strategy to ensure an adequate supply of infocomm talent in-tune with the rest of the economic sectors. This is critical in sustaining our growth. A competent manpower pool, armed with technical IT competencies and business know-how, would better position us to adapt nimbly to industry demands and ride on new opportunities for growth. The strategy is to develop a pool of infocomm talent that is industry-ready.

Growing the Infocomm Talent Pool

8. Over the next three to five years, IDA and the industry will be investing a further $70 million on infocomm manpower programmes to deepen the technical capabilities and enhance the global competitiveness of our infocomm talents. These programmes will target infocomm talents at both the student and professional levels.

9. The Techno-Strategist Programme is targeted at infocomm professionals and aims to equip them with sector-specific domain knowledge and solutioning capabilities. We will also work with industry players who already possess expertise in specific areas such as integrated digital media, to develop and deliver specialised courses. Through such channels, the training will be better tailored to the needs of infocomm professionals seeking to develop infocomm solutions for selected business sectors. In the next two years, this programme will focus on grooming some 1000 techno-strategists, or 10% of the middle-tier infocomm professionals in the healthcare, finance and banking sectors. Moving forward, IDA will expand the Techno-Strategists Programme to meet the infocomm manpower needs of other economic sectors such as retail and hospitality.

10. At last year’s SCS Gala Dinner, I mentioned that the IDA and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) were developing the National Infocomm Competency Framework (NICF). I am pleased to update that in the last year, universities, polytechnics and training providers have made good use of the NICF in their course development. To-date, more than 2,000 IT professionals are being trained in some 70 courses that are in line with NICF competencies.

Attracting and Training the Young

11. Let me now move on to the programmes for our youths and students. IDA, together with the industry and institutes of learning, will be rolling out programmes aimed at developing industry-ready graduates.

12. For the academic year 2008, university undergraduates can look forward to the Enhanced Learning in Infocomm Technology Programme or “ELITe”. The ELITe programme adds to IDA’s overall talent attraction and talent development efforts. This programme will target the top 20% of infocomm students at the three local universities - NUS, NTU and SMU. It is aimed at enhancing their infocomm capabilities through the acquisition of practical infocomm skills and business domain knowledge. This will be achieved by involving companies who will offer industry attachment and project work opportunities to the students. In addition, students can take up infocomm certification courses to enhance their technical capabilities. This programme benefits both companies and students.

13. More young students are now showing an interest in the infocomm career. This is a good sign. Since its launch three years ago, the National Infocomm Scholarship has been awarded to 107 top infocomm students. Among the primary and secondary schools, and junior colleges, there are now more than 150 Infocomm Clubs with a 7,000-strong membership base. By 2009, two out of three schools will be offering Infocomm Club as a Co-Curricular Activity or CCA - bringing the total number of schools with Infocomm Clubs to 250.

14. The industry and educational institutions play an important role in developing our young talent pool. As the voice of the IT community, the Singapore Computer Society, too, plays an equally important role in nurturing our young. Hence, I encourage you to continue to nurture their entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, and inspire them to take up a career in infocomm. The challenge before us is to make IT a sought-after career for more of our brightest and our best students.

SCS - The Voice of Infocomm

15. I am confident that the Society will continue to grow in stature and remain a powerful force in cultivating IT talents and fostering the growth of the infocomm sector in Singapore. The IT Leader Awards is now a celebrated milestone of the Society for its role in honouring and recognising the outstanding individuals who have contributed tremendously to the infocomm sector.

16. I am confident that the winners of this year’s IT Leader Awards will continue the tradition of past winners to be Singapore’s torch-bearers of infocomm growth and innovation. 

17. In conclusion, I would like to congratulate SCS for many years of dedicated and effective contributions to the infocomm industry. I also congratulate the winners of the IT Leaders Awards this evening. Your contributions to the advancement of infocomm in Singapore and your passion and commitment have made you exemplary models of the infocomm industry. Congratulations once again.

18. Thank you.


1 The Value-Added of the sector grew 6.4% from S$12.5 billion in 2005 to S$13.3 billion in 2006, and the infocomm industry revenue grew almost 20% from S$37.9 billion to S$45.4 billion.

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