The Digital Economy, which includes the Infocomm Technology (ICT) sector and digitalisation efforts in other industries, accounted for 17% of Singapore’s GDP in 202213. This is expected to reach around US$30 billion in 2025, driven by e-commerce and digital finance services 14. To ensure continued growth, Singapore must build a trusted, interconnected, and inclusive Digital Economy through the enhancement of hard and soft infrastructure, such as robust networks for faster connectivity and secured digital transaction 15.
However, the scarcity of digital talent and high adoption costs pose challenges for Small and Medium Enterprises. To address this, the government aims to increase the number of digitally skilled workers by 55%, from the present 2.2 million in the workforce 16. Singapore’s exploration of technologies has the potential to drive innovation and create significant economic value.
Businesses should, therefore, continue to leverage on data and AI related skills to push for business innovation and digital transformation.
A. High Demand Growth
These skills tend to be highly technical and/or in relatively new functional areas but are not required across many job roles.
Examples of Skills:
- Workflow Digitalisation
- Marketing Campaign Management
B. High Demand Growth
These skills see relatively high demand growth and are required across many job roles.
Examples of Skills:
- Artificial Intelligence Application
- E-commerce Management
C. Moderate Demand Growth
These skills may have plateaued in demand and consolidated within several job roles.
Examples of Skills:
- Network Configuration
- IT Asset Management
D. Moderate Demand Growth
Despite moderate demand growth, these skills are required across many job roles.
Examples of Skills:
- Programming and Coding
- Big Data Analytics
Digital transformation and emerging technology are leading the trend toward businesses leveraging data and AI for business innovation.
Tech-lite job roles, such as marketing executives, data analysts and sales executives, require skills that enable businesses to respond quickly to market changes and customer needs. Market Research, Market Trend Analysis, Data Protection Management, and Business Insights are among the skills with high demand growth and have high transferability
Tech-heavy job roles, such as software engineers, data engineers and DevOps engineers, skills such as Software Design, Programming and Coding, and Big Data Analytics are becoming increasingly crucial. These skills see steady demand growth and high transferability for businesses to leverage data and technology to deliver personalised and relevant customer experiences.
Emerging technology-related skills with high demand growth but moderate transferability, such as Machine Learning Application, Autonomous Systems Technology Application, Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Governance, and Computational Modelling, are associated with megatrends of AI and automation. Tech-heavy job roles, such as AI engineers and data scientists, need to keep up with the latest trends in data and AI to remain relevant and effective in their roles. As these technologies continue to evolve and become more prevalent in business and society, the demand for these skills will likely continue to grow.
Three skills continue to trend high in transferability with steady demand growth.
Programming and Coding is crucial in developing software applications and websites and automating work tasks. Programming and coding is a required skill for software engineering managers, associate software engineers, software developers and mobile and application-related job roles that require this skill.
Big Data Analytics is becoming increasingly important to businesses for data-driven decisions to improve business-related outcomes. Data specialised job roles, such as data analysts, data engineers, and data centre engineers are in high demand as businesses leverage the power of big data to gain insights. Other non-data specialised job roles, such as e-commerce managers, audit managers, and business analysts are also in demand. Professionals in job roles harness big data’s potential to personalise products and services with the aim of meeting customer needs better.
Application Support and Enhancement is critical for job roles such as systems support engineers, applications support engineers, and product engineers. This skill is essential in providing transformative solutions and digital infrastructure such as the Internet, big data, and AI
There is a surge in demand and transferability for Automation Research and Implementation, E-commerce Management, and Artificial Intelligence Application across business functions and sectors.
E-commerce Management creates new opportunities for businesses and transforms the way they operate. Job roles in online sales, such as e-commerce executives and online sale channel managers, are crucial to support the e-commerce function. In the last two years, retail job roles, such as merchandising associates and retail managers have grown to need this skill for omnichannel strategies.
Automation Research and Implementation enables productivity improvement by streamlining processes, reducing errors and fostering innovation. DevOps engineers and cloud specialists are examples of job roles that have consistently supported businesses in their drive for automation and digitalisation. Specialised job roles, such as automation and orchestration engineers, automation technicians and digital transformation managers are seeing greater demand from employers.
Artificial Intelligence Application is transforming business operations and outcomes by improving efficiency and enhancing decision-making capabilities. The introduction of generative AI to create new content in various forms has further enhanced AI capabilities to transform businesses. Job roles, such as data scientists and AI engineers, use this skill to leverage AI technologies to drive productivity. Tech-lite job roles such as innovation managers, portfolio management analysts, and financial planners are also increasingly using this technology.
We stand on the brink of a technological generative AI revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind
has witness termed as a Kairos season.
In Singapore, as well as globally, the generative AI market is burgeoning at an unprecedented rate. Experts predict that by 2025, the global AI market will exceed $190 billion, with generative AI playing a pivotal role in this surge. Singapore, recognised as a technological hub, is positioned to harness this potential, with the government pushing for innovation and the private sector eagerly adopting generative AI solutions.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore are starting to embrace generative AI technologies to improve their operations. Customer service managers use generative AI to automate responses, enhance customer interaction, and reduce the time to resolve customer issues. For marketing managers, generative AI provides data-driven insights, creates personalised marketing campaigns, and generates creative content, thereby boosting marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Besides these two functions, there are increasingly more use cases across various business functions on the use of generative AI to complement their work. To be successful, they should possess a blend of AI knowledge and business acumen.
In addition, generative AI unicorns like Anthropic and Cohere are increasing their employee strength to continually build and enhance generative AI capabilities. Some of these roles include software engineers and AI/ ML research scientists. Software engineers design, code, and debug the software infrastructure that powers these generative models. AI/ML research scientists are tasked with running experiments, improving the models, and developing new algorithms.
Deep tech organisations such as GovTech and IBM are recruiting a wide range of professionals, including software developers, AI/ML engineers, data engineers, data scientists, and business analysts.
The incorporation of generative AI-related skills is not just a necessity; it’s a strategic move to accelerate business growth. By harnessing the power of AI-generated content and solutions, companies can streamline processes, enhance customer experiences, and make data-driven decisions. Moreover, this transformation doesn’t just impact external operations, it also holds the key to upskilling the workforce. Employees equipped with generative AI skills can contribute to the development and implementation of AI-driven strategies, ensuring a symbiotic relationship between technology and human expertise.
Journeying from a sunset industry to future tech
After 29 years of telling stories through her work in the publishing industry, Carol Wong transitioned to a dramatically different career – albeit one that also involves telling stories.
As a data advocate at JJ Innovation, Carol Wong is, in her own words, a ‘data storyteller’. Now, instead of being in an industry that collects words into sentences to tell imaginative tales, she collects data and makes sense of it, then helps her clients to visualise all the useful ways they can use this data to improve their organisation.
A learning mindset, and a successful transition
Carol’s journey into the Digital Economy has been fast-tracked by her willingness to learn, and enabled by the proactive use of her SkillsFuture Credit During the COVID-19 pandemic, Carol took on several digital courses, including Advanced Management Spreadsheet, Basic Data Analytics, and Google Data Analytics Professional Certification courses.
More crucial to her successful career switch, she also enrolled in the Junior Data Engineer track of the SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme. The 15- week bootcamp equipped her with key digital skills like the Python programming language, and Carol was fortunate that her cohort also received bonus lessons on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as her instructor wanted to shed more light on these upcoming technologies. Through the programme, Carol also got to connect with JJ Innovation, who loved her drive for professional development and hired her.
Developing the skills for a digital career
When asked about the most important skills for professionals in her field, Carol named Artificial Intelligence Application, Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Governance, Big Data Analytics, Business Insights, Machine Learning, and Information Collection as the skills that digital professionals (and especially data advocates) should prioritise.
However, Carol notes that technical skills are only one part of the equation. “Soft skills are also important for digital professionals,” she says. Elaborating, Carol tells us, “In tech, it’s important to have a growth mindset, be able to accept setbacks, and have the skills to communicate with both team members and external stakeholders. This includes voicing your opinion when you hear something you don’t agree with, because it’s an important part of the process.”
Thriving in a supportive environment
Carol also credits her workplace, and the mentors she’s had along her journey, for her seamless transition into the digital space. “The company gives us the resources we need to succeed, like scholarships for pursuing Google and Microsoft certifications, to become proficient in using relevant tools.
“Also, I’ve met some amazing mentors. From career advisors in the tech industry to my ‘tech buddy’ at the bootcamp, and my boss at work – these digital professionals have guided me at every turn, and I appreciate every one of them.''
From F&B entrepreneur to software engineer: Essential skills for transitioning
Any career transition is challenging, but moving from food and beverage (F&B) business owner to software engineer can be a leap too far for most people. For Chua Kiat Leong, however, it was a challenge he willingly jumped into.
The journey from F&B to software engineering
In 2019, Kiat Leong stepped into the bold world of entrepreneurship when he set up an F&B business that offered delicious, customisable salad bowls to health-conscious diners. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the F&B industry badly, Kiat Leong decided it was time to refocus his efforts into an area that piqued his interest while he was in university – technology.
Recalling how he enjoyed problem solving and the satisfaction of debugging issues and enhancing features in one computing class he took in university, Kiat Leong signed up for a 9-month SGUnited Java Developer Course in 2021 and set his sights on taking on a tech role – which he eventually landed as a software engineer with CrimsonLogic.
“The company was open to hiring people without experience, and promised mentorship as well. It was everything I could hope for, so I was excited to give it a shot,” Kiat Leong says, explaining his decision to take on this role.
Key digital skills
Identifying the skills he uses most as a software engineer, Kiat Leong pointed to Applications Support And Enhancement, Programming and Coding, Software Design, and Software Testing – all skills that SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has identified as key digital skills, and covered in the SGUnited Java Developer Course he enrolled in.
Diving deeper, Kiat Leong explains, “A big part of my job involves understanding how clients use their applications, recognising the enhancements they need, and being able to create these add-ons. The other side is identifying issues that clients are having with programs, and solving these issues for them. That’s why in my role, the most used set of technical skills is Application Support and Enhancement.
“With that said, as I need to speak with clients, people-facing skills are also important. This is where my F&B experience has been useful, as I used to speak with customers, vendors and suppliers every day.”
Kiat Leong also credits his team for making his career switch a smooth one. “My managers and colleagues have guided me along and taught me how things are done. Being new to the field, I’ve asked many questions, and they’ve always been open with answering my queries and being a part of my learning journey.”
Leaping into the Digital Economy
Reaching out to other Singaporeans interested to enter the Digital Economy, Kiat Leong has this to share. “If this is a space you’re really interested in, go for courses to learn the necessary skills, then make the jump! It may be tough at the start, but keep learning and the results will pay off in the end.”
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