How are Singaporeans affected?
The rate of technological advancement and adoption worldwide is rapidly increasing, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasting an increase in global spending in both traditional and new technologies up to 2022. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) are expected to take a significant share of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market.
While these new technologies spur economic growth, one major concern is how technology is disruptive and whether jobs will be affected. 25 per cent of jobs in the United States (US) could be displaced by automation according to Brookings Institution, and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) reports that technological advancements will affect more than half of jobs in Asia with net losses in job opportunities up till 2030. Although certain job roles will evolve for people to work alongside technology and new job roles will be created, there is a growing fear that workers will be unable to adapt to the change or embrace the new skills required in these roles to stay ahead in their new technological environment.
The latest technological wave to surge is AI, the function of computer systems that learn from large sets of data and perform tasks that require human intelligence, and is said to power the fourth industrial revolution and radically impact the way we work and live. However, AI is predicted to negatively impact Singapore’s labour market the greatest compared to its neighbours until 2028 due to the nation’s faster pace of implementing digital transformation, according to a study in September 2018 by technology firm Cisco and economic forecasting agency Oxford Economics on economies in Southeast Asia (SEA):
- largest extent of job displacement, and
- biggest discrepancy between skills and jobs
Despite this, Singapore topped the list of 105 cities in September 2019 in Oliver Wyman Forum’s Global Cities’ AI Readiness Index,which looks at how equipped cities are to address the AI disruption, and performed particularly well in the category of vision. The Singapore government’s drive towards a Smart Nation is led by 2 forefronts: to build a digital government and infrastructure, with the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) spearheading the Digital Government Blueprint; and to enhance digital literacy and capabilities and increase digital access of society through a comprehensive list of programmes and initiatives by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
IMDA provides not only training programmes for seniors and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) to empower them with the knowledge in using current technology, which include Digital Clinics, Silver Digital Creators and Intergen IT Bootcamp; but also affordable broadband bundle packages and computers for low-income households to have digital access. For the younger generation and Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs), initiatives range from the PlayMaker programme for pre-schoolers to various courses and certifications in ICT skills (such as Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme PLUS (CITREP+), Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP) and Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP)) for young adults about to enter the workforce and PMETs looking to pick up skills for a transit into new jobs or industries.
Singapore’s commitment to develop a capable generation of young talent for the digital economy was further strengthened with the recent announcements of a new full-time Diploma in Applied AI & Analytics programme at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and compulsory coding enrichment classes conducted by IMDA for all upper primary students in 2020.
Singapore’s rapid digitalisation in becoming a Smart Nation is in effort to build a vibrant and competitive economy to have an innovative edge over others. As highlighted the steps to get there will be huge, but Singapore is primed to do so with its plans and continued efforts to prepare the nation for the change to come. With the suite of programmes and initiatives available, our society is well equipped to embrace technological shifts and stay relevant and updated to adapt to current needs of the new digital economy, or we risk staying stagnant and left behind as the nation progresses on.
At Vertical Institute, we too recognise the widening gap between skills and jobs in Singapore, and are committed to ensure that our nation’s workforce is ready to take on the new and evolving jobs in the ICT industry. Our courses will provide the most in-demand digital skills and knowledge to prepare you as you embark on a career in tech.