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Employment in Singapore’s Infocomm Media Sector Grew 5% During Pandemic

Local employment in the infocomm media sector in Singapore grew by 5 per cent last year, or about 8,000 people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, it grew 4.8 per cent last year, even as the broader economy shrank 5.4 per cent.

The minister said the local share of Singapore’s infocomm media workforce had remained steady at about three in four over the past few years. The latest figure for the growth in foreign hires in the sector was not immediately available. But Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng had said that from 2005 to last year, the number of Employment Pass holders – usually higher-skilled foreigners working in Singapore – in the infocomm sector increased by around 25,000, while the number of jobs created for local professionals, managers and executives was around 35,000.

Dr Tan said the infocomm sector has 6,000 jobs unfilled, adding that Singapore currently does not have enough locals to fill the jobs available as the demand for technology talent has grown, with the economy going digital. Minister Teo however, in her first public speech as Minister for Communications and Information after a Cabinet reshuffle in May, also said there was a significant proportion of new jobs for tech talent here. Of the jobs expected to be created from the Economic Development Board’s committed investments in 2019 and 2020, about 40 per cent, or 20,000, are expected to be digital roles across Singapore’s economy.

Collectively, these trends point to a picture of Singapore’s digital future that is very much at the forefront of its economy and that offers exciting opportunities for Singaporeans – both its people as well as its businesses – that are willing to take on these challenges, build up their capabilities and innovate, the minister said.

The infocomm media sector is likely to expand beyond its current 10 per cent contribution to Singapore’s economy and grow in the next couple of years, she added. While the coronavirus outbreak caused businesses and schools to go digital quickly, with strong demand for tech talent, as well as digital products and solutions, early investments in digitalisation here made the switch less painful, the minister added.

These included initiatives such as the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s SMEs Go Digital programme, which provided support for businesses to continue their operations remotely. The SMEs Go Digital programme aims to help SMEs use digital technologies and build stronger digital capabilities to seize growth opportunities in the digital economy. Building on the foundation of Enhanced iSPRINT, SMEs Go Digital has a more structured and inclusive approach towards the adoption of digital technologies by SMEs.

Also, past investments in building Singapore’s Internet infrastructure proved essential during periods when people had to work and learn from home during the pandemic. With digital technology transforming every sector of Singapore’s economy, the agency must ensure that SMEs make the most of digital technologies to improve operations and generate new revenue.

The infocomm media sector will be vital in building up Singapore’s digital innovation capabilities and creating sophisticated digital products and services that have the potential to reach global markets. It will also be a growth multiplier for the broader economy. Digital technologies can help firms become more productive and competitive and can position these companies to capture the opportunities that will come from pervasive digitalisation across the board, said the minister. She pointed to how in the Asia-Pacific region, total infocomm technology spending is expected to exceed US$1 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) by 2024, according to a market research firm.

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