S'pore will continue to prioritise local talent development as financial sector grows: Josephine Teo

Local workers have accounted for around 80 per cent of those employed in the financial sector over the past five years. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore will continue to prioritise developing local workers as the financial services sector expands, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Jan 27).

Mrs Teo noted that this will allow Singaporeans to deepen their expertise and access new opportunities while Singapore-based firms can expand alongside a growing talent pool.

Around 1,300 local workers were employed by 400 financial sector employers in September, based on preliminary estimates, she added.

These employers will receive substantial support through the Jobs Growth Incentive, a billion-dollar scheme that helps workers shift from businesses that were downsizing due to the pandemic to sectors that are continuing to expand.

Local workers have accounted for around 80 per cent of those employed in the financial sector over the past five years.

"At the same time, we are mindful that considerable uncertainties remain. The Government and our industry partners will adopt a three-pronged approach to enhance Singapore's position as a trusted location of choice for financial institutions," said Mrs Teo, who was speaking at the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) Awards 2020.

They will double down on efforts to further digitalise financial services. "This is irreversible and the sooner we get to it, the faster we move, the better it is," she added.

"This will enable the sector to meet increased demands for more varied digital finance solutions and better user experiences."

They will also boost the connectivity of Singapore businesses with overseas players to broaden their opportunities.

The third pillar involves helping firms seize new opportunities in areas such as green and pandemic risk financing and insolvency.

Past crises have shown that adaptable companies are far more likely to succeed, added Mrs Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs. "This goes hand in hand with a workforce that is agile, and which takes reskilling and upskilling in its stride."

Financial institutions can bridge skills gaps by hiring and training mid-career job seekers who bring valuable experience and skills, said Mrs Teo.

Many are already on board Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) and have committed to reskill and re-deploy 5,300 staff in areas such as consumer banking and operations. About 1,900 of these workers have already completed their training and been redeployed into new or enhanced roles.

Firms can also tap the Technology in Finance Immersion Programme to train mid-career job seekers in key areas such as cloud computing and cyber security.

Finance professionals were lauded on Wednesday for their efforts to develop the sector at a live-streamed ceremony held at Sofitel Singapore City Centre.

The IBF Inspire Award honouring firms that have embraced skills development and helped employees stay relevant went to DBS Bank, Great Eastern Singapore, Prudential Singapore and UOB.

Mr Lim Khiang Tong, head of group operations and technology at OCBC Bank, and Ms Mabel Ha, who holds senior adviser roles in the industry, received the IBF Distinguished Fellow award, which recognises leaders who have championed change.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo presents the IBF Distinguished Fellow award to OCBC's Mr Lim Khiang Tong at the awards ceremony on Jan 27, 2021. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Mr Lim told The Straits Times that 30 per cent of OCBC's operations staff have started their PCP training in areas such as machine learning and data science.

"Professionals should look at how their roles are likely to change dramatically in the next few years and look towards reskilling and upskilling," he said.

Meanwhile, 19 professionals received the IBF Fellow award, which recognises those who have shown mastery of their profession, thought leadership and commitment to industry development.

IBF Fellow Jon Yeo, the chief compliance officer at Maybank Singapore, started an internship scheme in 2016 to groom undergraduates and postgraduates who are interested in careers in compliance.

Mr Yeo said: "People often think compliance is narrowly scoped to anti-money laundering. But we also manage personal data protection, insider trading risk and other regulatory risks.

"Understanding the wide spectrum of regulations... opens up a lot of opportunities for job seekers."

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