Parliament

Most of workers in ICT sector are citizens, PRs

Of the one-third who are foreigners in Infocomm industry, most are Employment Pass holders, says Lim Swee Say

Singapore citizens and permanent residents make up the majority of workers in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

The sector employed 125,300 workers last year, and two-thirds of them are resident workers.

The remaining one-third are made up of foreign work pass holders, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told Parliament yesterday.

This ratio of local to foreign workers is broadly similar to that of the overall workforce of 3.6 million.

Labour MP Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) had asked Mr Lim for the current breakdown of Employment Pass, S-Pass and Work Permit holders and the resident workforce in the tech and IT sector.

He also asked what efforts are being made to ensure foreign manpower is not over-represented in this sector, and to encourage more locals to join the growing sector.

Mr Lim, in his response, said that of the one-third who are foreigners, most of them are Employment Pass holders.

There are concerns over a manpower shortage in the ICT sector in the face of rising demand for tech professionals due to Singapore's Smart Nation initiative and continual growth in technology.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) estimates there were 15,000 ICT job vacancies that could not be filled in 2014.

Mr Lim added: "IDA estimates that by 2017, another 15,000 specialists may be required, especially in growth areas such as software and application development, network and infrastructure, cyber security and data analytics."

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim also touched on the shortage in a separate reply to labour MP Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC), who asked which tech and ICT jobs are affected and what skills are needed.

Dr Yaacob said the 15,000 vacancies were not just in tech and IT, but also companies in sectors such as banking and finance that employ infocomm professionals.

"More than two-thirds of these vacancies were for PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) or technical specialists," he said. "The rest were mainly in sales and marketing, and infocomm operation job roles."

Both ministers said plans are in place to grow manpower in the ICT sector, and more details will be announced at the Committee of Supply debate next month.

Mr Lim also said IDA and the industry are working together to draw up a sectoral manpower plan for Singaporeans to benefit from the growth in career opportunities in this field.

The plan has four broad objectives: to sustain the global competitiveness of the sector, achieve manpower-lean growth, develop a strong core of Singaporean workers in ICT, and foster a highly-skilled foreign workforce that complements local talent in the sector.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Most of workers in ICT sector are citizens, PRs'. Print Edition | Subscribe