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Speech by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the SCS Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards 2011

4 March 2011 - Opening Address By Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards 2011, Shangri-La Hotel

Opening Address By Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, at the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards 2011 on 4 March 2011, Shangri-La Hotel

Mr Alphonsus Pang, President of the Singapore Computer Society,

Minister Lim Swee Say,

Dr Lee Boon Yang,

Members of SCS,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

1. I am pleased to once again join you at the annual SCS Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards. The SCS Gala Dinner has always been an occasion where the infocomm industry comes together to celebrate the achievements of the past year, and indeed, there is reason to celebrate as last year had proved to be a good one for both the infocomm industry as well as our overall economy.

Infocomm Industry is Thriving

2. The outlook of the infocomm sector remains positive. Gartner has said that worldwide IT spending totalled US$3.4 trillion (S$4.4 trillion) in 2010, up 5.4 per cent from the previous year. Gartner had also raised its outlook for 2011. It forecasted worldwide IT spending of up to US$3.6 trillion (S$4.6 trillion). This is a 5.1 per cent increase from 20101. In Singapore, the ICT sector contributed about S$15.6 billion, or approximately 7.4 per cent, of Gross Value Add in 20102. Our latest Annual Survey on Infocomm Manpower 2010 has also similarly indicated that demand for infocomm manpower in Singapore, which includes both those who are currently employed as well as job vacancies, has grown almost 10 per cent3 in 2010.

Infocomm Plays a Pivotal Role in Singapore's Economy

3. Infocomm will continue to play a pivotal role in Singapore's overall economy. Increasingly, various economic sectors have been leveraging on infocomm to expand and increase their business capabilities and revenues. Take for example local Western food establishment, Astons. To help manage its chain of dining venues, the company uses wireless infrastructure to streamline ordering and payments workflow. In the area of hospitality, one of our National Infocomm Awards 2010 winners for "Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology", Resorts World Integrated Resort, uses IT systems to better understand customer preferences for better provision of service.

4. The public service has also leveraged upon infocomm to deliver better services with improved efficiency. For example, hospitals such as the National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital use RFID tagging, and this reduces the turnaround time for new beds by about 45 per cent. This is a large cut from 90 to 50 minutes. It is therefore important to have a pool of infocomm leaders and experts who understand the sectors, and are able to analyse the critical paths and bottlenecks that turn up. They can then create, develop and implement innovative solutions to transform various economic sectors in Singapore.

Public-Private Partnership to Invest in Future Talent Development

5. Going forward, manpower and talent are the key ingredients. The right quality and appropriate quantity is absolutely essential if we are to fully exploit the many opportunities in this sector. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, or IDA, has been working on a new infocomm manpower roadmap, termed "The Infocomm Manpower Development Roadmap, Version Two Point Zero", or MDEV 2.0 for short. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those present who have contributed valuable suggestions to the development of this roadmap as the Government continues to work with the industry on talent development.

6. The four-year roadmap will be focused on developing high-end infocomm experts and leaders. It aims to achieve three outcomes. First, to develop talent with deep infocomm skills, and for these talent to have the ability and agility to exploit infocomm to enable industry shifts; second, a greater share of infocomm talent; and third, to ensure that Singapore's manpower profile is more closely aligned to Singapore's role as a global hub.

Building and Deepening the Capabilities of Infocomm Professionals

7. Allow me to elaborate. In the area of developing talent with deep infocomm skills, IDA, together with WDA, will enhance the infocomm Continual Education Training landscape with practical courses for new and emerging infocomm areas. This will allow infocomm professionals to better contribute and value-add to their organisations.

8. In support of infocomm professionals, IDA will expand its Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme, or CITREP programme, to cover training in new and emerging areas such as Cloud Computing, Green IT and Digital Forensics. With the expanded programme, training providers will be eligible for higher course funding levels of up to 70 per cent4. The target is to train 8,000 professionals over the next two years.

9. A new "Hybrid Skills Development Programme" will also be implemented to provide professionals with the skills and expertise to bring sector domain knowledge to bear, when developing infocomm solutions. This programme will support the provision of specialised courses incorporating practical training in sectors like financial services and healthcare, such that infocomm professionals trained through the programme can better impact the business sectors they serve.

10. To help fast-track fresh professionals in infocomm roles to better take on specialist-level jobs, IDA will also be working with industry partners to accelerate the acquisition of higher-end infocomm professional skills via company-based training. Trainees under this programme will primarily be hired by the infocomm companies that have provided them with the training, while the remaining trainees will be absorbed by the companies' industry partners.

Attracting and Grooming Infocomm Talent

11. The second key outcome of MDEV 2.0 is to ensure that Singapore has a good pipeline of infocomm talent. IDA already has several initiatives in place including student outreach programmes, scholarships as well as collaborations between industry and academia to ensure industry-relevant curricula is taught at the polytechnics and the universities. Moving forward, greater emphasis will be placed on company internships and project work for tertiary students.

12. IDA and MOE will also be working closely to promote computing amongst the pre-tertiary students. The industry needs continuous injection of new people, with fresh insights, varied ideas and a well-developed skill set. To this end, MOE has revised the 'A' level Computing syllabus and these changes will be introduced to JC1 students from 2012 onwards. This new syllabus will focus on computational thinking, which is a problem-driven approach that encourages students to explore and discover computing concepts.

Singapore's role as a global hub

13. The third key outcome of MDEV 2.0 seeks to ensure that our manpower profile can be more closely aligned to Singapore's role as a leading infocomm hub in Asia. Over the past four years, infocomm MNCs such as HP Labs, IBM, NTT Communications and Oracle have hosted critical IT functions in Singapore to serve the wider region. In addition, Singapore acts as a hub for other MNCs, such as AXA Tech, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Daimler, Deutsche Bank and P&G, to deliver internal IT services to their subsidiaries in the region and beyond. This has led to an upward shift in the skill set and seniority of infocomm professionals needed, such as project managers and software architects.

14. We will continue to work towards the provision of world-class infocomm education and towards the deepening of capabilities, so as to develop a professional infocomm workforce for these high-end, high value-added jobs. These infocomm professionals can then continue to play a critical part in Singapore's role as a global IT hub.

15. IDA is mindful of these emerging trends in this fast developing sector and, in support of the infocomm industry, IDA, with its partners, will be further investing about $30 million into these infocomm manpower development programmes over the next two years. Above all, we seek your ideas, suggestions and inputs on how we can go forward and continue to renew, refresh and enrich not just only the manpower development and training, but all other sectors that contribute to the vibrant IT landscape in Singapore.


16. Before I conclude, allow me to congratulate all the winners of the IT Leaders Award 2011 and thank everyone present today for their contribution to the profession. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to SCS for your unwavering commitment to the development of infocomm professionals in Singapore. The Government will continue to actively partner SCS, to foster a strong spirit of enterprise and innovation, and to uphold the high standard of infocomm professionals in Singapore.

17. I wish you a pleasant evening. Thank you.

Notes to Editor:

1 According to Gartner's "Worldwide IT Spending to Grow 5.1 Percent in 2011", published on 6 Jan 2011.
2 Statistic from MTI.
3 Demand for infocomm manpower grew from 143,500 in 2009 to 157,600 in 2010.
4 For courses in which the project work component accounts for at least 30 per cent of the course.