Pilot programme to facilitate hiring of foreign talent in tech companies

The Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore announced plans to pilot Tech@SG, which will aim to help tech companies grow in Singapore and expand in the region.
The Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore announced plans to pilot Tech@SG, which will aim to help tech companies grow in Singapore and expand in the region.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Foreign professionals looking to work here as core team members of technology companies might have more flexible requirements over the application of their Employment Pass (EP).

The Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore announced plans on Tuesday (July 30) to pilot Tech @ SG, which is planned to help tech companies grow in Singapore and expand in the region.

The pilot programme will start in the fourth quarter of this year and will last for two years.

The agencies said that, under the programme, technology companies will have the EP application of their core team members facilitated to help them get talent they need to set up teams here.

But both EDB and Enterprise Singapore did not detail how EP applications for foreign talent will be different for these companies. When asked by The Straits Times to elaborate, an EDB spokesman said manpower flexibilities for the applications of some team members will be provided, if needed.

"This includes considering alternative factors in the application if needed, such as the stock options remuneration of the core team members, or if they have deep skills in place of formal academic qualifications," said the spokesman.

The Ministry of Manpower's website states that the EP is for foreign professionals who have a job offer here, work in a managerial, executive or specialised job, earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,600 and have acceptable qualifications. It added that this usually means a good university degree, professional qualifications or specialist skills.

Mr Edwin Chow, the assistant chief executive officer of Enterprise Singapore, said: "Our high-growth companies with technology needs will benefit from the expertise that global tech talent can bring.

"This is especially so for tech start-ups that require the resources to strengthen their tech capabilities and scale up more quickly."

The two agencies said in their release that, under the pilot, high-potential companies in growth areas such as digital, medtech, biotech, cleantech, agritech and fintech will get access to business networks and talent needed to set up new teams in Singapore.

This, they added, includes connecting the companies to relevant organisations and start-ups here, as well as facilitating the entry of core team members. They did not specify how this will be done.

 
 
 
 

In a study released last month, recruitment consultancy Robert Walters found that in South-east Asia, close to 70 per cent of hiring managers took at least three months to fill an open tech position.

The shortage of tech talent has negatively affected the speed of product development, according to 70 per cent of hiring managers surveyed this April.

And research by specialised recruiter Robert Half last year found that more than 90 per cent of Singaporean IT leaders were concerned Singapore does not have the IT talent readily available to build a Smart Nation-ready workforce.

Artificial intelligence-solutions developer Taiger is one of the companies that welcomed the news of this pilot.

Its founder and CEO Sinuhe Arroyo said: "We are very optimistic about this pilot and its role in accelerating Taiger's growth in Singapore. The AI space is highly competitive.

"Timely onboarding of the right talents is critical to our success in developing world-class AI solutions as well as seizing market opportunities. Entry facilitation for core team members will expedite this onboarding process."