Hot tech jobs in Singapore

Jobs in higher demand are still in core technology areas like software development, but Singapore will increasingly need people with both technical skills and business domain knowledge to help drive the economy.
Written by Isabelle Chan, Contributor

People with skills in core areas like infrastructural support and software development, are in high demand in Singapore, but so are those who have a good mix of technical and business skills.

According to the past three annual manpower surveys conducted by Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), the top three job categories have been: infrastructure support; software design, development and implementation; and infocomm sales and marketing.

Andrew Sansom, director of DP Search, believes "this is a healthy sign" for the island-state. He explained: "Singapore is a well-balanced market in a sense that there are requirements from user organizations, consulting firms and vendors alike. It means that not only are vendors selling and expecting to sell more, companies also are getting through the backlog of development and implementation projects.

"It is very much bonanza time for job seekers again as we approach pre-2001 levels."
-- Andrew Sansom, DP Search

"It is now time to throw out the band-aid jobs they did for Y2K. It shows a robust economy all-round," Sansom added. "Job-wise, it is very much bonanza time for job seekers again as we approach pre-2001 levels. There are far more jobs on the market now and certain categories like developers, implementers and networking and infrastructure people, have many job options to choose from."

Mixing tech and business
Results from the IDA's latest manpower survey, conducted in 2006, also revealed an upward trend of job positions requiring professionals who can straddle between technology and business.

An IDA spokesperson told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "Moving forward, the job market may see an increasing need for infocomm professionals who posses not just technical infocomm skills, but business domain knowledge as well.

"This is particularly important for Singapore as the country progresses to become an 'intelligent' nation powered by infocomm under its 10-year infocomm masterplan, Intelligent Nation 2015," said the IDA executive.

Confirming this recruitment trend, Arcot Desai Narasimhalu, a council member of the Singapore Computer Society, said business analysts who can bridge the gap between the IT and business groups, are much sought after. "Those with business analysis capabilities are in great demand," Desai said.

According to the IDA, other job categories that require "converged technical and business skills that can help transform Singapore's key economic sectors" are CIOs and IT managers, business processing outsourcing (BPO) and project management skills.

Emerging hot spots
Games development is another potential hot spot. Although Singapore is "still in the early stages of creating this capability", Desai said, the island-state has "an opportunity to become a Southeast Asian leader in games development".

The government plans to develop the country into a knowledge hub for games and digital media business. To do that, Singapore will need to build a ready pool of local and foreign talent.

In July 2006, the government announced that S$500 million (US$325.7 million) would be allocated over five years to fund research and development activities in interactive and digital media. The program aims to generate a market worth S$10 billion (U$6.54 billion), as well as create some 10,000 new jobs in Singapore by 2015.

Another area that holds promise is infocomm security, but more needs to be done to develop the profession.

Sansom explained: "Security, although much is spoken of it, has yet to really take off in Singapore. The government is actively promoting Singapore's expertise and potential in this area, but sadly, this is not yet reflected in the job market."

"We don't see that much growth in security jobs, and salaries have yet to grow significantly. More work needs to be done in this area," he said.

Key people resources
IDA has set a target to boost the number of infocomm jobs by 55,000 to about 170,000 by 2015. The additional jobs will focus on "techno-strategists", whom the IDA said, are professionals with technical infocomm skills as well as business domain knowledge.

"Such talent is critical for Singapore's continued progress, as infocomm is used to better the lives of its people and strengthen the economic competitiveness of key growth sectors, such as manufacturing and logistics, financial services, healthcare and education," said the IDA spokesperson.

The boost in infocomm jobs will also generate another 25,000 non-infocomm jobs in the infocomm industry. These are jobs with support functions such as accountants and administrators, that will grow in tandem with the infocomm industry.

Sansom said: "Singapore's open-door policy for IT staff has paid huge dividends. There is a strong multinational workforce, and it is well able to cope with the bulk of demand, even if it takes a while to fill some positions.

"Eventually all the vacancies would be filled, mostly with locals--Singapore and permanent residents--and to some extent with new imports," he added.

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