Netizens raise concerns on announcement of 10,000 tech-related jobs to be created by new government office

Source: Dr Chee Soon Juan article.

With the formation of a new government office announced by the Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Wednesday (26 June), the private sector in Singapore is all set to witness the creation of about 10,000 new tech-related jobs in the next three years.

The Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) office was formed to encourage public-private partnership to assist businesses to keep up with the fast pace of technology and to digitise.

The Minister said that DISG will be the “first stop” for companies to get help in digital industry-related matters. Companies can also work with this newly-formed office to gather talent and market access, build capabilities as well as venture into overseas markets.

“There are several other similar projects in the DISG pipeline, which will also bring broader benefits for Singapore’s digital ecosystem, including the creation of an estimated 10,000 new jobs over the next three years,” said Mr Iswaran while speaking at the opening of this year’s Smart Nation Summit at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.

He also noted that DISG has started its work by supporting the setting up of Grab’s new headquarters in the city-state, which is said to accommodate close to 3,000 employees.

The DISG is handled by the Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). It has recruited 45 existing officers from the three agencies.

The three agencies said in a joint statement that the 10,000 new jobs will be the outcome of DISG’s efforts, inclusive of the formation of new policies and guiding government investments in fields like data, talent, trade and digital infrastructure.

“Beyond technology roles in engineering, software and product development, DISG expects that jobs in other functions, such as finance, human resources, innovation and business development, will also be created,” the agencies noted.

Mr Iswaran also stressed that DISG is formed to create public-private partnerships by sharing resources and knowledge.

“DISG aims to forge an innovative and multi-faceted public-private partnership model by sense-making global trends in technology, industry and policy, and tapping the combined resources and levers of government agencies overseeing industry development and regulations,” the Minister said.

Kiren Kumar, the chief digital industry officer of DISG, revealed that 80 out of 100 global technology companies and more than 4,000 home-grown international start-ups from different parts of the world are all set up in Singapore.

“With the complementary networks, resources and programmes of EDB, Enterprise Singapore and IMDA coming together, DISG will seek to achieve our mission to establish Singapore as a global-Asia technology hub with deep capabilities, strong infrastructure and a vibrant ecosystem of local and global enterprises, from which new products, services, business models and partnership are created for Asia and beyond,” he said.

As for preparing citizens for these future jobs, the DISG and IMDA will work together with the industry and local education institutions to form training programmes and on-the-job training. The training will emphasise areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, data science, network engineering, software development, user experience design and product management.

In addition, the DISG will also look at setting up two aspects of the technology ecosystem – consumer technology and enterprise technology. For the former, the new office will help companies to penetrate the growing Asian market to seize opportunities in areas like ride-hailing, e-commerce, fintech and new media.

As for the latter, DISG will digitalise Singapore’s economy in order to allow businesses build new solutions in cyber security, artificial intelligence, payments and cloud computing, as well as expand globally.

Over on social media, online users questioned if these 10,000 new jobs will be given to local Singaporeans or foreign talents (FT). Commenting on the Facebook pages of ST, TODAY and CNA, many of them noted that these jobs will most probably handed over to FTs and not Singaporeans.

Since one of the reasons why DISG was formed was to help companies digitise, some people argue that it may result in hacking of personal information and data breaches. As such, they want the the Government to look at solving these issues, rather than establish this new digital government office.

On the other hand, Kendra Teng asked if “home-grown start ups be eligible to apply for funding for digitalization and keeping up with technology” as well as if these local start-ups will be “eligible for higher funding”. She brought up these questions as she wanted to know if the Government is looking at taking care of locals first.

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