Singapore identifies AI, IoT as emerging key skillsets, with infrastructure support set for displacement

5G, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things are amongst industry trends that Singapore believes will drive demand for skillsets over the next three to five years, while roles in infrastructure and operations are at risk of displacement and require reskilling.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore has earmarked Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI) amongst key technology trends it believes will drive demand for skillsets over the next three to five years. Roles in infrastructure and operations, however, are at risk of displacement and will require reskilling as they transition towards automation and DevOps. 

Industry regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) released its "jobs transformation" roadmap for the local information and communications workforce Thursday, highlighting roles it said would be in demand as well as at risk of being displaced amidst rapid technology changes. 

The roadmap pointed to several key trends that would drive high demand for skilled workers over the next few years, including cloud computing, analytics and AI, and software engineering and DevOps. These were needed as more organisations looked towards cloud-based and AI-powered applications and agile development, according to the IMDA document, which was compiled in partnership with consulting firm EY. 

The report placed job roles into three categories, comprising high-impact roles that may face displacement or convergence, medium-impact roles that may require additional skillsets or redesign, as well as low-impact roles that may face minimal changes. 

Those parked under high-impact jobs were mainly in infrastructure and operations and support, such as infrastructure and network engineers, applications and systems support engineers, and security operations analysts. 

Workers in this category would require reskilling to remain relevant, picking up skillsets such as continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), 5G-related skills such as network slicing, agile software development, and cyber risk management. These would enable them to transition into roles encompassing, amongst others, automation and orchestration, DevOps, and incident investigation. 

"With the move to cloud platforms, there will be a decreasing need for standalone infrastructure engineering roles for organisations that do not have on-premise infrastructure," the report noted, adding that these companies would outsource the designing and deploying of their IT infrastructures to cloud vendors. 

It would reduce the need for infrastructure engineers, who might need to take on SRE (site reliability engineering) functions that could better automate and optimise infrastructure performance. 

The report further noted that those holding onto low-impact roles also should look to acquire new competencies, including in AI application, business risk management, customer behaviour analysis, and data governance.

IMDA said initiatives to upskill the local workforce had seen healthy uptake. Singapore 5G & Telecoms Academy, for instance, saw more than 7,000 professionals taking up courses in 5G and related technologies since its launch in 2020. 

The industry regulator added that further training would be rolled out through appointed training partners under its current TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) scheme, which has trained more than 160,000 individuals in skills such as AI, IoT, and cloud engineering. Institutes of Higher Learning also would work with industry players to help organisations identify at-risk employees and assist them in reskilling their information and communications workforce. 

According to IMDA, details on "modular training" on basic and intermediate skills for the local industry would be revealed next year.

Noting that Singapore's tech workforce grew almost 30% between 2017 and 2021, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo underscored the importance of lifelong learning and helping citizens stay relevant in the future economy. 

"This is relevant to us because we know that to explore the new frontiers of 5G and other emerging digital technologies, a skilled workforce is essential," said Teo on the release of the roadmap. To support this, she said the government was prioritising on upskilling the overall local workforce of 2.5 million with digital skills that were in demand. 

Professionals within the information and communications sector also needed to upgrade their skills to remain relevant, she noted, adding that the government would continue to work with industry players to boosts reskilling efforts. 


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