Singapore: The number of local university graduates from technology-related courses is set to grow by two-thirds by 2022, which experts say will go some way towards plugging the gap in the sector.
The intake for infocomm and digital technology courses across the six autonomous universities shot up from 1,250 in 2015 to 2,050 last year, fresh data from the Ministry of Education showed.
The intake for such courses in the five polytechnics has been consistent at 3,000 a year since 2015.
This comes amid a hunger for such talent as Singapore embarks on its Smart Nation journey, and companies ramp up hiring for roles such as data scientists and artificial intelligence specialists. Salaries have jumped accordingly.
In the last three years, IT graduates consistently emerged as the top salary earners, according to joint graduate employment surveys by the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.
Their median gross monthly salary surged from S$3,788 (RM11,551) in 2016 to S$4,100 (RM12,502) last year, putting them ahead of peers who studied engineering (S$3,600 or RM10,978) and business (S$3,450 or RM10,520).
Singapore Polytechnic lecturer Dora Chua said demand for local tech talent significantly outweighs supply, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“The talent pool is still in its infancy, and most are still in university and not yet in the workforce, ” said Chua, who teaches students about streaming analytics and the Internet of Things.
The crunch in the SME sector is keenly felt.
Kek Sei Wee, chief executive of local start-up IoTalents, said these corporations may also have better employer branding, company culture and work environments than SMEs.
Kek, whose firm specialises in matching tech talent to smaller firms, added: “Many SMEs turn to the foreign labour workforce as an alternative source, but it is not a viable solution for long-term growth.“Many are also turning to alternatives such as outsourcing or offshoring some of their tech work that needs to be done.”
Evan Tan, chief of staff at tech start-up Holistics Software, said it has been difficult to find local talent that is a “good fit, with relevant experience in the tech industry”.
His company, which specialises in data analytics and business intelligence, has staff in Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore.
But increasing the graduate talent pool need not be the only solution to ease the tech crunch, he added.
Students who are not in tech courses but can show they have put in work to develop the relevant skills – even if it is just as a hobby – will also be sought after.
“It’s not so much about age or academic credentials; being able to present a portfolio of projects and work counts for much more.” — The Straits Times/ANN