IMDA tie-up programme seeks to plug infocomm skills gap

General Assembly, a New York-based private institute that specialises in ICT-related training, launched its new and bigger campus here, in Anson Road, on Tuesday. Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (right) with (front, from left) Mr Arif Rah
Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (right) with (front, from left) Mr Arif Rahman, who took a course under General Assembly; General Assembly's regional director for Singapore Aziza Sheerin; Ms Angela Chan, who trained with General Assembly over 10 weeks and went from project management in communications to an IT role with Razer; (back, from left) Mr Maxime Grosdoigt, managing director of Maltem Singapore; Accenture principal director Lawrence Wong; chief executive and founder of General Assembly Jake Schwartz; and Adecco Group CEO Alain Dehaze.PHOTO: ZAQY MOHAMAD/FACEBOOK
General Assembly, a New York-based private institute that specialises in ICT-related training, launched its new and bigger campus here, in Anson Road, on Tuesday. Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (right) with (front, from left) Mr Arif Rah
General Assembly, a New York-based private institute that specialises in ICT-related training, launched its new and bigger campus here, in Anson Road, on Tuesday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Partnership with private institute turns those unfamiliar with ICT into tech professionals

In 2017, Mr Arif Rahman was a private-hire car driver with some interest in IT.

Four months after graduating that same year from a Web development course, the 30-year-old landed a front-end developer job at Indorse, an international blockchain start-up based in Singapore.

Mr Arif had enrolled in a course under the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore's (IMDA) Tech Immersion and Placement Programme, which converts individuals unfamiliar with information and communications technology (ICT) to tech professionals through immersive training.

While the programme addresses a skill gap, the shortfall remains. According to the 2018 Infocomm Media Manpower Survey, the demand for infocomm professionals in areas such as IT development, data analytics and the Internet of Things is set to grow by 28,500 by next year.

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that as Singapore shifts to a digital economy, this skills gap will widen.

"This means that businesses that depend on hiring only ready talent will find themselves facing a very tight labour market," he added.

Mr Zaqy was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of a new and bigger campus in Anson Road for the New York-based General Assembly, a four-year-old private institute that specialises in ICT-related training here.

Mr Zaqy said that for businesses to stay competitive in the infocomm sector, employers will need to become more sophisticated at developing talent by upskilling their employees and hiring people who may not possess the complete skill sets but can be trained to excel at their jobs.

Mr Arif, who left school after his N levels and got his O-level certificate later, was among more than 2,000 people who enrolled in General Assembly's digital and ICT-related courses.

Since 2016, the institute has also offered four full-time courses, under the IMDA programme, in Web development, digital marketing, data science and user experience design.

Singapore citizens who apply for these courses are eligible for subsidies.

At the end of these 10-to 12-week courses, the institute will help students land jobs by providing career coaching and portfolio building advice, and connecting them to hiring events.

Close to 97 per cent of graduates from the four courses have found employment.

In a Facebook post after the event, Mr Zaqy wrote: "We had many tech professionals in attendance and everyone found it really inspiring that the opportunities in skills development for the workplace given today can help develop one's potential, no matter your qualifications."

He said that he was inspired by Mr Arif, adding: "There are no limits to what you can achieve if you have the determination and motivation, no matter your background."

Mr Arif, who previously worked as a hairdresser as well, said: "Having seen my career progression stagnate in the past, I did not expect to get a job that I've always wanted.

"Working in this field is exciting and it's a never-ending learning journey."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'IMDA tie-up programme seeks to plug infocomm skills gap'. Print Edition | Subscribe