Pilot scheme to facilitate hiring of foreign talent in tech firms

EDB and Enterprise Singapore said that under the programme, high-potential companies in growth areas such as medtech and biotech will get access to business networks and talent needed to set up new teams.
EDB and Enterprise Singapore said that under the programme, high-potential companies in growth areas such as medtech and biotech will get access to business networks and talent needed to set up new teams.ST FILE PHOTO

It will provide more flexibility for employment pass applications

Foreign professionals looking to work here as core team members of technology companies might have more flexible requirements over the application of their employment passes (EPs).

The Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore announced plans yesterday to pilot Tech @ SG, which will 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 the 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.

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

Mr Edwin Chow, assistant CEO 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 programme, 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.

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 the country does not have the IT talent readily available to build a Smart Nation-ready workforce.

Artificial intelligence solutions developer Taiger welcomed the news. Its founder and CEO Sinuhe Arroyo said: "We are very optimistic about this pilot and its role in accelerating Taiger's growth in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Pilot scheme to facilitate hiring of foreign talent in tech firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe