Budget debate: Poly, ITE students to get more help to start careers in tech

The initiative will include private sector internships to allow students to acquire in-demand skills. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Students and graduates from Singapore's polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) will be getting more help in kick-starting their careers in the tech sector.

This will be a new initiative by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) aimed at providing these students and graduates with end-to-end support, said Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How during the debate on his ministry's budget in Parliament on Friday (March 4).

He was replying to a question by Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) on what will be done to equip all Singaporeans with digital skills.

Called TechSkills Accelerator for ITE and Polytechnics (TIP) Alliance, the initiative will include private sector internships to allow students to acquire in-demand skills such as those of data engineers, database administrators and application developers.

"After graduation, they will be able to take up apprenticeships at participating companies under place and train programmes, to learn the ropes for information and communications technology (ICT) roles," said Mr Tan.

"Participating companies will also establish skills-oriented training plans and pathways for tech roles for these graduates, including certifications and specialist training."

Graduates can continue to take up further ICT qualifications, such as a degree, while working, through the SkillsFuture Work-Study programmes.

Mr Tan said the initiative will start with 1,000 students over the next three years.

The announcement comes amid a rising shortage of tech talent here.

There are about 216,000 ICT professionals here, with half in the ICT sector and others supporting digital transformation in other sectors such as finance and manufacturing.

Around 10,000 more professionals have been added to the workforce each year in recent years, said Mr Tan.

But 19,000 roles remain unfilled today, particularly in roles such as software engineering and development, he added.

He noted that some polytechnic and ITE graduates of information and digital technologies courses have encountered challenges in finding suitable entry-level roles in their areas of study.

For instance, some potential employers still prefer to hire university graduates.

"Structured support and clearly defined scaffolding in their career pathways can make a world of difference," added Mr Tan.

He also said the Government will establish new programmes and specialisations in universities to support emerging tech needs in different sectors.

It will work with tech companies such as Google and big firms such as DBS Bank to groom tech professionals, as well as launch a new road map to help employers and employees in the industry identify areas where reskilling or upskilling is needed.

On Friday, Mr Tan also said IMDA will be increasing its efforts to support small and medium-sized enterprises here with digitalisation.

This includes expanding its Grow Digital initiative, which helps SMEs participate in e-commerce platforms to operate overseas, to include more of such platforms.

The agency will also launch a new industry digital plan for the legal sector and refresh existing digitalisation road maps for other sectors such as retail.

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