Parliament: More jobs in digital sector; businesses to receive bonus for adopting digital solutions, says Iswaran

From January to March this year, the ICT sector expanded by 3.5 per cent and saw the creation of 1,100 jobs. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - More than 5,000 jobs in the thriving digital sector are on the way for Singaporeans as the Government doubles down on efforts to help workers here seize opportunities to reskill and land new roles amid the challenging economic climate.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday (June 4), Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said the jobs are in fields like cyber security, digital marketing and data analytics.

He added that in the digital push, companies in badly hit sectors will benefit too.

Those that adopt digital solutions, such as e-commerce platforms, will receive up to $10,000 each under a new scheme.

Minister Iswaran said the infocomm technology (ICT) sector is doing well despite the hits Singapore's economy took due to the disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

From January to March this year, the sector expanded by 3.5 per cent and saw the creation of 1,100 jobs.

"The ICT sector remains one of the bright spots in our economy amidst the economic uncertainty.

"Digital and tech roles are in demand, within the ICT sector, but also across the rest of the economy as all sectors seek digital solutions," said Mr Iswaran.

He said a total of 5,500 jobs will be created over the next two to three years in this sector through the Government's TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programmes.

Launched in 2016, TeSA is a SkillsFuture initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which is working in partnership with agencies like Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore to design a variety of programmes that provide training for workers and match them to ICT jobs.

By 2023, the Government will be enhancing its Company-Led Training (CLT) programme, to place 3,000 workers in new jobs in the sector.

Under this CLT programme, firms partner with the Government and receive financial support to train workers to acquire useful tech skills at an accelerated pace.

Workers can be trained in emerging areas such as 5G, Internet of Things, cloud computing, digital marketing and gain core ICT know-how in fields like software engineering, cyber security and data analytics.

Also in the same time frame, the similar TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme, which trains and places jobs for professionals aged 40 and above, will aim to create 2,500 jobs.

The TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme is a training scheme co-funded by the Government and companies.

It was launched to plug manpower gaps and to match jobs to these workers.

The Government provides funds to the firms involved for items like participants' monthly stipends, training fees and cost-of-living allowances.

When it was introduced in March, the scheme was said to offer participants 500 jobs from 10 companies, including ST Engineering, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank.

Minister Iswaran had said then that the scheme would create 2,000 jobs over the next two years.

"Our goal is to help fresh graduates and mid-career professionals alike to secure these jobs, advance their skills and start a fulfilling career in one of the more promising sectors in our economy today," said Mr Iswaran.

He was replying to MPs like Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC), who had asked about support measures for mid-career professionals.

In his speech, the minister also gave more details of the new Digital Resilience Bonus (DRB) that aims to help businesses in two sectors badly affected by Covid-19 to digitalise - food and beverage (F&B) and retail.

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Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the bonus on May 26 in the $33 billion Fortitude Budget to further fund Covid-19 support measures.

A survey published last month by restaurant booking platform Chope of more than 150 dining establishments found that about two in five said they would not be able to operate beyond the next two months.

More than four in five said that they cannot survive beyond six months.

Singapore's retail sales in March dropped 13.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis, the steepest pace in more than 20 years, according to data released by the Department of Statistics last month.

The DRB scheme may see businesses that adopt tech-driven solutions to better their processes, such as in accounting, human resource or inventory management, receive $2,500.

They will also have to have in place PayNow Corporate and Pan European Public Procurement On-Line e-invoicing.

A secondary bonus of $2,500 under the DRB will be paid to businesses if they build an online shopfront or e-commerce platform, said Mr Iswaran.

Additionally, companies can receive a further $5,000 should they decide to provide "advanced digital solutions", which includes data mining and data analytics.

Local cafe chain Foreword Coffee Roasters will be receiving DRB payouts.

Its director, Mr Lim Wei Jie, 28, said sales increased tenfold after the company launched a new website in April by adopting an e-commerce development package.

They plan to use the funds from the DRB to install a new e-payment and online ordering system.

"We had wanted to implement a digital payment and ordering system to simplify our workflow for our employees and customers.

"With the Digital Resilience Bonus, we are going to implement this sooner than planned," said Mr Lim.

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