Right kind of workers needed

Office workers at the Marina Bay Financial District.
Office workers at the Marina Bay Financial District. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The editorial on Feb 17 ("The long and short of IT talent") touched upon how the shortfall of almost 30,000 IT workers may, to the public, be seen as the "failure of training institutions to adequately meet market demand for IT skills, and of job seekers to make the right investments in their human capital to take advantage of booming opportunities".

My belief is that the shortfall is exaggerated because we have based it on the needs of traditional systems or application developers.

I recently wrote about retraining seniors and retired workers for the Smart Nation initiative because of Singapore's limited labour pool ("Pull together pieces from all over to build our Smart Nation"; Feb 13).

I suggested in my letter that we simply take various ready-made apps and pieces of apps from other advanced nations to build our "smart nation".

This will reduce the need to produce so many IT graduates from our training institutions in the building phase.

However, we will still need a large number of "implementers" - those who do not need to learn how to code an app, but who have to learn to service users of the various apps.

These jobs can be undertaken by older workers, who need to be trained on the use of the apps, not by traditional training institutions but the app developers themselves.

If the apps are designed well, the support personnel would not have to be IT graduates.

My in-vehicle unit (IU) broke down a few days ago. Without a functioning IU, the car cannot enter carparks or drive on roads with Electronic Road Pricing gantries.

I eventually had to go to a vehicle inspection centre to get a new IU; the installer of the IU was likely not a graduate.

In such instances, to train a huge number of computer programming graduates will only worsen the situation.

We must be smart on our journey to becoming a "smart nation".

Geoffrey Kung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Right kind of workers needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe