SINGAPORE - The immense growth potential of the deep tech sector even amid the coronavirus pandemic is translating into exciting career opportunities for Singaporeans, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.
"While Covid-19 has had an indelible impact on economies and societies, it has also increased the impetus to accelerate innovation to address immediate challenges in areas such as healthcare and communications... Despite our current economic circumstances, deep tech remains a bright spot with a promising future," he said at a virtual talent showcase on Saturday (Sept 12) morning.
Deep technologies refer to scientific breakthroughs or significant advancements which, when applied, have far-reaching implications across sectors and can potentially change lives for the better. Some examples of deep technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things and quantum computing.
Mr Iswaran was speaking at a virtual event organised by government-owned venture firm SGInnovate. The programme included panel discussions, workshops and job booths for opportunities in the deep tech sector.
With more than 200 apprenticeships and full-time roles from over 30 companies on offer at the event, Mr Iswaran said: "This attests to the resilience of the sector in an otherwise challenging labour market. In the longer term, deep tech will be the engine to power future industry growth."
For instance, he said that AI has the potential to help develop vaccines in record time, while quantum technologies may exponentially speed up computational time and enhance cryptography methods in cyber security.
The country's goal is to build a strong Singaporean core of researchers and technologists, who possess not only the technical capabilities, but also the resolve to solve great social and environmental problems, he added.
Attracting people to join the deep tech sector is part of the Government's push to beef up talent across the digital economy, which has more than 18,000 skills training opportunities and job vacancies under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package - the sector with the highest offerings.
During a panel discussion at Saturday's event, deep tech company leaders said that those interested in joining the sector must always be adaptable and keep an open mind.
Ms Grace Chia, chief executive and co-founder of BeeX Autonomous Systems, which designs autonomous underwater vehicles, said: "It's about mindset. You need to have the problem-solving initiative. I think most people have been told all their lives that something is yes or no, but in the tech space, there's no right answer. You have to deal with unknowns, so you must want to constantly challenge yourself to explore methods to address these unknowns."
Ms Chia and other experts encouraged job seekers to constantly upskill and apply to join the sector, even if they did not receive formal tech training during their undergraduate studies.
Associate professor Ang Wei Tech, of the Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, said: "Lifelong training is real. The first degree doesn't define you. If you truly want to join the tech sector, then put in the effort and find out more about it."
Mr Gary Loh, chairman and founder of DiMuto, a supply chain visibility platform for the agrifood sector, agreed. He said: "It's all about the passion - that's the most important graduation gift. If you're interested in health tech or space technology or quantum computing, then channel that passion into learning about it."