60%-70% of jobs created by new investments in 2019 will be in PMET roles: EDB

All in all the Economic Development Board expects 32,814 jobs will stem from the $15.2 billion of investment commitments made in 2019 - an amount that exceeded official forecasts. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman EDB speaks at the EDB 2019 Year In Review 2019 press conference on January 16, 2020. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Around 60 to 70 per cent of the jobs created by the foreign investment attracted here in 2019 will be for professionals, managers, executives and technicians, a category known as PMETs.

Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Beh Swan Gin noted also on Thursday (Jan 16) that other roles will be well-paying "rank and file" positions.

All in all the EDB expects 32,814 jobs will stem from the $15.2 billion of investment commitments made in 2019 - an amount that exceeded official forecasts.

Around half of these positions will be in the digital economy, utilising technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

But Dr Beh pointed out in a briefing on Thursday that not all of these digital jobs will require advanced skills; some could be filled by people with traditional backgrounds who are comfortable in the digital domain.

Around 29 per cent of the total expected jobs will be in manufacturing and production roles.

EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong said: "The kind of job landscape we are creating in Singapore is really evolving and becoming more diverse, and this brings multiple pathways, more opportunities for Singaporeans and creates a resilience in our economy.

He noted how the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) has been effective, especially in the manufacturing sector, as it provides workers with varied levels of education "practical, technical skills" that can be applied to the industry.

Former engineer Jimmy Hong, 51, undertook the one-year PCP for the biologics manufacturing sector after his former employer closed its operations in Singapore.

Mr Hong is now responsible for developing and updating standard operating procedures and other operations as a biotechnologist at Novartis.

Sizeable spending commitments from large manufacturers were key to Singapore's strong investment figures in 2019, with chipmaker Micron among those which are expanding their presence here.

Ms Khairunnisa Zulkifli, 27, a manufacturing senior engineer at Micron, has benefited from the company's continued commitment to Singapore.

She picked up macro-programming skills on her own after a colleague introduced her to the basics about 18 months after she joined the company in 2015.

Her skills have since enabled her to extract and consolidate large data sets more efficiently - a task that used to take more than an hour now takes less than 20 seconds, she said.

It has also been useful in reducing human error in some areas, Ms Khairunnisa added.

Mr Chng said that while it would be very easy for the EDB to bring in the "highest value-added jobs that pay the best" - likely meaning a high concentration of finance and programming opportunities - its focus is on creating positions at different levels.

"We have to be conscious that not everyone can get (these jobs) and not everyone is a programmer," he noted.

"What we need is a diverse field of jobs spanning multiple different industries ... and that creates some resilience (in our economy) as industries ebb and flow."

Jobs also have to be created at different levels because they are not just for the younger generation, but they also have to be roles that older workers can transition to mid-career, Mr Chng added.

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