Singapore developing framework to calibrate ICT skills

Von Computerworld Singapore

A National Infocomm Competency Framework is being developed in Singapore to calibrate ICT skills and allow local infocomm professionals to assess their own competencies against standards agreed on by the industry.

The framework will define the competencies and skill levels required, as well as the levels of progression in the ICT profession, said Lee Kwok Cheong, chairman of the Infocomm Competency Centre (ICC) which will guide the development of the framework.

?ICT professionals need to know where they stand and the path for moving up,? he said.

The setting up of the ICC was announced together with the formation of the iN2015 Steering Committee recently. IN2015 is a 10-year master plan to grow the ICT industry and to use infocomm technologies to enhance the competitiveness of key economic sectors and build a well-connected society.

Chan Yeng Kit, chief executive officer of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, noted that infocomm contributes 6 per cent to GDP. There is thus the need to develop a ?new compelling plan? to retain Singapore?s leadership in this area, he said.

With the chief executives of both the Workforce Development Authority and the IDA on the council, Lee said the ICC?s aim is to develop ?a meaningful framework for the real world."

Currently, there are about 104,000 ICT professionals in Singapore, and a 3-5 per cent growth is expected over the next two years.

But beyond the raw numbers, there is a need to change the national profile of infocomm skills, said Lee. Competition, and the fact that Singapore?s manpower costs are higher, necessitate the upgrade of skill sets to infocomm roles such as architects and project managers.

Other changes in mind set are also required. ?We are no longer talking about people working in Singapore but also Singapore-certified ICT professionals working in the region,? he said. He gave the example of the Certified IT Project Management, which is issued in Singapore.

Emphasizing this point, Stephen Lim, chairman of the Singapore IT Federation, noted that today, ICT professionals no longer have to sit in Singapore to serve a Singapore company. ?It is a different paradigm that has to be taken into consideration,? he said.

In the upcoming months, working groups will be formed to focus on key segments of the infocomm industry.

An example would be infocomm security, said Khoong Hock Yun, assistant chief executive (Industry), IDA. ?There is scope for Singapore as a trusted hub to build impactful professionals in this area,? he said.

Another example is grid computing. IDA and Oracle recently announced the launch of the Enterprise-g Manpower Program (g-Map) to drive the development of enterprise grid capabilities. G-Map, which will deliver enterprise grid computing training at the student, administrator and architect levels, aims to train 300 infocomm professionals over next three years.

There are also opportunities beyond traditional ICT services, in areas such as media and gaming, said Lee.

?We have to draw line between the technology and the creative side, and we focus on the technology side,? he said.

The skill sets and competencies which will be required are tied very much to the vision identified under iN2015. ?We have to look at the competencies and manpower that is being developed in schools today,? said Lee. ?We need strategies to attract talent into infocomm and engage in joint promotion efforts to increase the awareness of infocomm as a career.?

But ICT professionals will not be the only beneficiaries of the National Infocomm Competency Framework, said Lee. For employers, it will help guide HR planning and recruitment, and also help improve the design and quality of training.

Lee noted that while the World Economic Forum ranked Singapore No 1 in ICT in the region, and the pace of business is picking up, there is a lot of competition out there. ?Singapore needs to adjust, to continue to grow and upgrade,? he said. ?We must not only be the best; we must also be seen to be there.?