SGTech Calls for Skills-Based Tech Talent Development in Budget 2023 Recommendations 

Suggestions from SGTech include recognition of micro-credentials for tech talent hiring and upskilling, strengthening Digital Trust workforce and environment, and cash incentives for SMEs who leverage technologies for sustainable practices  


SINGAPORE, 31 January 2023 - Adopting a skills-based approach, recognising micro-credentials and informal learning channels, as well as creating multiple pathways for tech careers and developing accreditation schemes for Digital Trust professionals are among the recommendations put forth by SGTech to develop a more resilient and innovative tech sector in Singapore. 
As the leading tech association in Singapore, with more than 1,100 member companies, SGTech’s recommendations have previously been shared with the Singapore Government for consideration for Budget 2023 in the hope of strengthening the sector here amid uncertain and challenging times for the industry globally. 
In coming up with these recommendations, SGTech has gathered inputs through multiple surveys and focus groups with more than 400 representatives from member companies. It has mainly grouped these recommendations into three strategic thrusts, namely developing tech talent through a skills-based approach, strengthening the Digital Trust workforce and environment, and incentivising enterprises to leverage technology for sustainable practices. 
Mr Wong Wai Meng, SGTech Chair, said: “Against the challenging macro backdrop of a global growth slowdown, SGTech believes digitisation remains in full force and that the transformative potential of digitalisation is here to stay. As technology becomes ever more deeply embedded in how we live, play and work, businesses should embrace new technologies and capture the bright spots in technology-related areas and sectors. Just this month, we saw the world enamoured with the AI sensation, ChatGPT, which has grown to have over a million users in a matter of days. That's the blistering pace of digitalisation and the digital economy. Our recommendations will help companies to seize the opportunities in the fast-growing digital economy by fostering a more trusted, safe, dynamic, and efficient digital ecosystem, supporting and nurturing a vibrant pool of tech talent, and leveraging tech to operate responsibly and sustainably. We hope the government can consider these recommendations from the tech sector, especially as it attempts to plan for the future of our economy via the Forward Singapore exercise. SGTech remains committed to advocating for the local tech industry and strengthening private-public partnerships.” 
Skills-based approach for talent hiring and development 
To withstand any disruptions and skills redundancies in the tech industry, SGTech calls for skills-based approaches in creating multiple career pathways that will complement academic routes and incorporate agility into reacting to new challenges and developments in the sector. 
To boost the industry and help local PMETs and mid-career professionals identify and secure higher-value tech roles, SGTech recommends a multi-stakeholder approach in determining a comprehensive list of such roles that are essential to businesses in the industry.  
The list should be developed with the help of industry, through trade associations and chambers including SGTech, and government agencies such as the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Workforce Singapore. Upon successfully identifying such roles that are in demand, industry and government can work together to facilitate career switches and transference of relevant professionals into these roles via existing and new initiatives. 
Mr Ivan Chang, Co-Chair, SGTech Talent & Capabilities Committee, said: “Amidst the recent tech layoffs, SGTech believes that the fundamental importance of tech for business transformation remains unchanged and will continue to fuel job growth in the year ahead. As such, we are confident that the demand for tech talents will remain strong in 2023. Organisations should develop and utilise a skills-based approach to hiring and developing talent to manage these workforce demands. This implies that recognising skills acquired through informal learning channels is an area we must consider seriously. Identifying higher-value tech jobs that do not require deep technical skills can also help in the race to convert mid-careerists into tech-lite specialists. SGTech hopes to work closely with relevant trade associations, chambers, and government agencies to support this workforce transition, especially through the modest outlook for 2023.” 
SGTech also advocates for tech jobs to be more accessible to keep pace with industry demands by adopting skills-based approaches to hiring and developing talent. With this, hiring strategies need to change inherently by listing skills needed as opposed to qualifications and requirements. Doing this will help lower the barriers of entry for prospective job seekers and increase the diverse pool of hires in the industry. 
SGTech recognises the availability of online skills-based learning institutions and training, however a number of businesses still do not acknowledge such credentials for hiring. We have seen some government agencies moving away from requiring formal education towards more skills-based approaches but more could follow suit. Hence, the association urges the recognition of skills acquired through informal channels including micro-credentials and certifications available online. SGTech further recommends the formation of an industry workgroup to come up with common standards and recognition for such learning outcomes. Such industry-led and recognised standards could eventually be incorporated into the national framework to encourage recognition and boost adoption.  

A stronger digital trust environment 

 In addition to developing skills-based hiring and development is the recognition of trust as a competitive advantage of Singapore, hence the need to improve the Digital Trust environment through piloting a highly specialised Digital Trust workforce. 
In October 2022, SGTech unveiled Digital Trust as a key thrust of its efforts to strengthen Singapore as a digital hub and to enhance the tech sector’s contributions to the Singapore economy. However, the advent of the digital economy has also posed risks including the growth of online harms. The continued increase of online harms such as cybersecurity attacks, consumer data mismanagement and online scams call for an industry-wide professional data protection officer scheme instead of treating the designation as an “extra-curricular” role delegated to existing staff.  
With this, SGTech opens the possibility of creating a Chief Trust Officer who will be responsible for data protection policies, cybersecurity, and data usage and innovations of each company. SGTech suggested that the government could be a role model by appointing one for relevant government agencies. 
The association recommends a pilot scheme to promote the growth of the Digital Trust workforce. Through the help of the government, trade associations and chambers (TACs) like SGTech could work with relevant institutions of higher learning to develop curricula and accreditation schemes that will develop Digital Trust professionals. 
In addition, SGTech recommends developing the Digital Trust capabilities and expertise of enterprises, especially SMEs, in onboarding new trust technologies, improving knowledge of policies, and preparing for incident response and recourse. This, according to SGTech, could come through the augmentation of grants, funding, and support schemes for the most promising companies developing trust technologies by funding sandboxes and pilot tests.  
Mr Calvin Chu, Exco Member, SGTech Digital Trust Committee and Chair, SGTech Digital Trust Policy Work Group, said: “Upholding and growing trust in the digital sphere is vital in Singapore’s journey to become a global digital capital. SGTech has been working to grow awareness of the significant economic and strategic opportunities Digital Trust offers Singapore, and the four Digital Trust-related Budget recommendations we have put forth will represent important first steps towards inspiring collective actionable change among industry, government and citizenry. Together, these recommendations will encourage the development of a Digital Trust Workforce; grow Digital Trust capabilities in enterprises, small or large; enable more trusted, and secure data flows regionally; and raise awareness of good Digital Trust practices among the general population - all of which will help promote a more trusted digital ecosystem and position Singapore at the forefront of Digital Trust internationally.” 
Globally, the rise of data sovereignty has bottle-necked cross-border data sharing and stymied regional and global digital trade. To enable trusted data flows, SGTech recommends the continuing encouragement of the use of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) and distributed ledger technology (DLT) to spur industry collaboration, fund projects and missions to stimulate multilateral collaborations and cross-border data flows, and catalyse the uptake of Cross Border Privacy Rules among enterprises in Asia by forming a cross-border Data Advisory Group with the membership of influential global enterprises and high-level government agencies.  
SGTech also recommends a two-pronged approach to promoting Digital Trust awareness among the public by conducting a nationwide public awareness campaign on the importance and characteristics of Digital Trust and introducing a training budget for businesses and supporting services, especially SMEs. 

Tech for sustainability 

 Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions and waste reduction practices are seen as additional costs and resource burden for businesses, particularly SMEs. For SMEs who have begun to adopt sustainability practices, the challenges are complicated by the fact that the national sustainability landscape has yet to achieve consensus on standards and that the development of taxonomies for Asia Pacific regions are still nascent.  
If this continues, Singapore could fall short of meeting our sustainability targets, with our SMEs at risk of losing competitiveness abroad especially when global supply chains demand more ESG compliance. 
SGTech therefore advocates practical and acceptable initiatives that make economic sense and can be driven by technologies. These include tiered cash rebates for SMEs that submit e-waste to a Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) Operator appointed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and/or a one-time cash rebate of up to S$3,000 per year per SME, which submits proof of an internal corporate sustainability review conducted with recommendations implemented. 
Mr Gavin Chua, Co-Chair, Sustainability Steering Committee, said: “As sustainability reporting requirements continue to tighten around the world, SGTech saw a rise in demand for products and services that offer verifiable footprint calculations and reductions. Singapore-based businesses could gain a competitive advantage by adopting technology solutions to report or even reduce their environmental footprints, gaining confidence to share their sustainability track record with their customers proactively. To incentivise small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) to contribute to the Singapore Green Plan, SGTech recommends cash rebates to adopt off-the-shelf, easy-to-use products such as tracking software to measure their footprints and to inform meaningful reduction strategies.” 
In line with Singapore’s sustainability goals, SGTech also recommends the exploration of importing new models of sustainability measurements from countries that are ahead in their national sustainability efforts. 
Lastly, SGTech recommends the formation and setup of a “Future of Tech Global Advisory” aiming to boost knowledge on new, emerging technologies among industry leaders across all economic sectors through the promotion of actionable, layman knowledge on digitalisation practices, as well as new and emerging technologies, to business leaders. 
Mr Nicholas Lee, 1st Vice Chair, SGTech Digital Transformation Chapter, said: “In our present economy, digital technology and skills have become the horizontal enabler which cuts across different industries.  SGTech’s Digi-SME will be operationalised in 2023 with the government’s strong support. A key deliverable is to develop a framework to help companies roadmap their digital transformation strategy holistically. While the Digi-SME will facilitate this, the actual execution of work will still have to be performed by the company itself. Given the volatile business environment and continued challenging landscape to acquire tech talent, the government can consider providing more support in this area to help companies to “jump start” this journey through a pool of shared resources. Such a pool of shared resources will help companies buy time to recruit, upskill and retrain their existing workforce (using existing Government support channels) while commencing their transformation journey.” 

Related Materials 

Annex A: Summary of SGTech’s 2023 Budget Recommendations  
Annex B: List of SGTech Spokesperson for 2023 Budget Recommendation 
Annex C: Chinese Glossary 

View Annexes

About SGTech

SGTech is the leading trade association for Singapore's tech industry. Representing over 1,000 member companies ranging from top multinational corporations, large local enterprises, vibrant small and medium-sized enterprises, and innovative startups, it is the largest community in Singapore where companies converge to advocate for change and drive what enables tech innovation and accelerate tech adoption to spur greater sustainability in the sector.


SGTech's mission is to catalyse a thriving ecosystem that powers Singapore as a global tech powerhouse.

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