New training scheme to help older workers enter tech sector

Communications And Information Minister S. Iswaran.

Singaporeans aged 40 and above keen to enter the tech sector can look forward to a new training scheme co-funded by the Government and industry players.

The TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Mid-Career Advance will plug manpower gaps and match jobs to mature workers. It will, for a start, offer participants 500 jobs in 10 companies, including ST Engineering, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank - in roles such as data analysts and cloud computing engineers.

Designed to give mid-career professionals the assurance of having a paid job while attending training to hone their skills, the scheme will be administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). "The Government will support companies to hire and train mid-career professionals for tech-related jobs, regardless of whether they have an ICT (information and communications technology) background," Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran told Parliament yesterday.

Speaking at the debate on his ministry's budget, Mr Iswaran acknowledged that many workers in their 40s and 50s feel the uncertainty caused by technological disruption, but this group also stands to gain from the new jobs being created in the tech sector if they have the opportunity and can master the required skills.

A key focus of his ministry, he added, is "to work with all Singaporeans to build a digital future where there are opportunities for all, where no one is left behind".

MPs like Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) and Mr Ong Teng Koon (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) had asked what the Government was doing to help workers, especially mature ones, develop skills for the digital economy.

The new scheme will help pay them a salary as they gain exposure and training. It will also help firms access a bigger pool of local talent, as government subsidies can offset training course fees and IMDA can support the development of training programmes, said Mr Iswaran.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said participants of TeSA Mid-Career Advance will go through instructor-led and on-the-job training, mentorship and overseas attachments, where relevant.

Over the next two years, 2,000 people are expected to benefit. The Government will provide funds to the firms involved for items like participants' monthly stipends, training fees, cost-of-living allowances and economy airfares for trainees who go overseas for attachments.

Companies will have to commit to hire each trainee for up to 24 months. "IMDA will support companies in the development of the programme through a collaborative effort, introducing third-party training partners where needed, and imparting best practices from more progressive tech hirers," said MCI.

Participants need not have tech experience, but must be at least 40, meet the firms' hiring requirements, possess a keen interest in a tech career and commit to the full training programme. One participating company is Accenture, which provides professional services. Its managing director Mark Tham said experienced workers bring "a wealth of knowledge" that can benefit firms.

The scheme is an enhancement of IMDA's TeSA - a SkillsFuture initiative comprising programmes aimed at equipping workers with emerging digital skills in demand among firms. TeSA has provided close to 100,000 training places since its launch in 2016, said Mr Iswaran.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2020, with the headline New training scheme to help older workers enter tech sector. Subscribe