SINGAPORE - Many opportunities in the tech space are available to mid-career entrants willing to venture out of their comfort zones, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (Jan 12).
He was speaking at the launch of a scholarship programme by tech giant Google to help 5,000 more Singaporeans acquire "in-demand digital skills" via the company's Google Career Certificate courses.
Although some industries and occupations will be disrupted amid accelerating digitalisation driven by Covid-19 to reduce physical contact, new sectors and jobs will emerge, said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
He added: "I believe that in the longer run, advancements in technology will create more and better jobs for our workers."
The courses under the scholarship programme are hosted on online course provider Coursera and are developed by Google experts. Each course usually takes between three and six months to complete, with students awarded a Google Career Certificate upon completion.
The scholarships will cover courses in four areas: information technology support, project management, data analytics and user experience design.
"If you look at Singapore today, there are job openings available in these four key areas that exceed the number of people qualified to take these positions," said Mr Scott Beaumont, Google's president for the Asia-Pacific, in his opening remarks on Wednesday at Google's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Mapletree Business City.
The scholarships - worth nearly $3 million - will cover a year's worth of Coursera subscription fees for 5,000 students.
These scholarships form the third pathway of the company's Skills Ignition SG upskilling programme, launched in July 2020 with the support of the Economic Development Board, Infocomm Media Development Authority and SkillsFuture Singapore.
Previously, students could only choose between a six-month vocational training programme with a deeper theoretical curriculum, and a train-and-place programme with three months of vocational training followed by six months of on-the-job training. Students in both programmes are paid.
With over 3,200 already enrolled, Google has expanded its target to 3,800 for the two pathways, up from 3,000 originally, said Mr Beaumont.
Mr Ben King, Google's country director for Singapore, told The Straits Times that the scholarship pathway allows a more rapid expansion of the programme, provides flexibility for those in the workforce wishing to upskill at their own time, and covers topics the other pathways do not, such as user experience design.
"(The pathway) is tailored to people with no prior experience or degree," he added.
Scholarships will be distributed through 13 partners, comprising all five polytechnics, three Institute of Technical Education colleges, social service agencies as well as self-help groups such as The Codette Project, Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki.
At Wednesday's launch, Google also unveiled a consortium comprising itself and16 other employers formed to connect graduates from Skills Ignition SG with employers who have a need for qualified candidates in these fields. These employers recognise the Google Career Certificates for recruitment and employee professional development.
One of the employers on board is Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), which runs the information technology systems of all public healthcare operators here.
IHiS chief executive Ngiam Siew Ying said the Skills Ignition SG programme's comprehensive curriculum, coupled with IHiS' on-the-job training, will create a diverse learning environment that contributes to health-tech applications.
One of the graduates of the programme is Ms Melissa Tan, 33.
Currently working as an accelerated growth strategist at Google, Ms Tan said she had always wanted to explore the tech industry, having worked in business development in the travel industry for the past decade.
"I joined the course in October 2020 and have thoroughly benefited from the programme's on-the-job experience, which was conducted with clear milestones for career progression."