SINGAPORE - There are many possibilities and new opportunities for the financial technology sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which will also generate jobs here, said labour chief Ng Chee Meng on Tuesday (Nov 3).
Mr Ng, who is National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general, told a virtual audience at the Digital Banking Symposium: "Covid-19, in its ironic way, has forced companies, whether big or small, to embrace technology and the possibilities of digitalisation to bring companies to new markets. Even traditional retail shops are going online to sell their products."
The symposium, being held from Nov 3 to 4, is jointly organised by the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) and the Banking and the Financial Services Union.
Mr Ng noted that the banking and finance sector is a "bright spark" in the Covid-disrupted economy, posting year-on-year growth of 3.4 per cent in the second quarter.
Preliminary findings by SFA have shown that fintech firms are still expanding their businesses and workforce, he added.
SFA president Chia Hock Lai said: "This is a crucial time for the industry. Despite the challenges being faced, the financial services sector in Singapore is on the brink of disruption. The emergence of digital banks in Singapore will open doors for several opportunities for jobs and collaborations. We believe Singapore will once again be able to look outward and strengthen its position as the leading fintech hub and financial centre in Asean and beyond."
Mr Ng agreed: "A new chapter is opening for the Singapore financial services sector for companies and workers, including professionals, managers and executives (PMEs). These are exciting times of challenges coupled with opportunities.
"With time, we will definitely see fewer physical banks and more digital banks offering services as companies and people desire more convenience through technological and digitalisation efforts... This will also mean that there will be a great impact on jobs and workers. Finance professionals may need to broaden knowledge beyond what they currently do, increase digital capabilities and deepen expertise in areas like data analytics."
He added that there may be heightened demand for jobs in areas like UXUI design and cloud applications.
NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay noted that the fintech space can also offer jobs in business development, marketing and sales, besides those in tech.
But the challenge is to find people with the right skills to prevent a mismatch between what the job requires and the skills someone can bring, he said.
Those in adjacent industries, with domain knowledge and networks, can also find roles in digital banks, he added.
"I hope Singaporeans, including those affected by unemployment, retrenchments and even the mature PMEs, keep an open mind," he said. "In this labour market, employers probably cannot find a 100 per cent match... but if they can find someone who is almost there but just needs a bit of beefing up of their skills, I hope they keep their options open too."
Mr Ng urged employers to invest in their workforce, redesign jobs where necessary and train workers.
"With employees equipped to take on higher-skilled roles, this will be a win-win situation... (with) better wages, better welfare."
He noted that banks have helped their workers with this, with DBS reskilling more than 500 contact centre staff to take on new roles and Citi launching a professional conversion programme to help some 400 workers.
"I encourage workers to keep an open mind and ... take up some courses to upgrade your own skills so you can seize opportunities... (and) upgrade yourselves ... so you can enhance your value and employability as you prepare for the jobs of tomorrow."