In an interview with Bloomberg on 19 Sep, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore needs to bring in foreign talent in areas including software programming while the country re-balances its education system to meet future demands.
“Talent is very short everywhere in the world – AI talent, software programmers,” Minister Ong said. “We let them in because we require a critical mass for the sector to take off, while we continue to train Singaporeans for those jobs.”
Minister Ong’s comment did not go well with many netizens, who asked why the government cannot train more Singaporeans to do these high-end jobs in the first place. Indeed, figures from NUS, supposedly Singapore’s premier university to train top local talents only produces a couple of hundreds of computer science graduates per year in the School of Computing for the last 10 years.
Furthermore, it has been estimated that Singapore’s infocomm industry has already been flooded with some 54% foreign talents. Bringing in more of them into Singapore would certainly shrink the percentage of locals working in infocomm industry even further.
Then, coincidentally a week later last Friday (28 Sep), mainstream media Straits Times quoting a survey from the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) said that “more young people in Singapore feel that the country has benefited from the presence of foreign talent”.
The IPS survey was said to have found 62.5 per cent of 19 to 30-year-olds believe that skilled workers who come here from other countries “have contributed to Singapore’s development”, compared to 45.4 per cent in 2010.
What is even more amazing is that the quoted survey was actually conducted 2 years ago from June to November 2016 with about 2,000 participants.
The timing of the publication of an old survey results supporting Minister Ong and appearing just 1 week after he said to bring in more foreign talents is incredible.
It’s like the IPS researchers have some kind of “telepathic link” to Minister Ong’s mind.