Tech industry trade association SGTech has submitted a total of nine recommendations to the Ministry of Finance at a pre-Budget dialogue this week focused on digital trust, tech talent and tech for sustainability.
Specifically, SGTech called for support when it comes to developing digital trust capabilities, adopting skills-based assessments to hire and train tech talent, as well as providing cash rebates to encourage sustainability in the Budget 2023 which is set to take place on February 14. The findings and recommendations by SGTech were gleaned from the organisations’ surveys and focus groups with over 400 representatives from member companies of varying sizes, business models and economic sectors.
In an attempt to increase digital trust, SGTech suggested offering grants and subsidies to incentivise the greater adoption of cyber hygiene among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
It also suggested including piloting schemes to promote a “digital trust workforce” which will enable trusted data flows and the education of the general public. SGTech added that is important to develop an industry-wide professional data protection officer or cyber security scheme, rather than considering digital trust an extra-curricular role, according to SGTech.
The government was also encouraged to push for trust technologies that protect data privacy to inspire cross-industry collaboration, fund projects that stimulate multilateral collaborations on digital trust and cross-border data flows, and form an advisory group that will catalyse the uptake of cross-border privacy rules among Asian enterprises, according to a release on its site. Senior Minister of state for communications and information Tan Kiat How, who attended the dialogue, added that moving things online is not just about a digitally enabled trade, but rather, what is being traded.
When it comes to building tech talent, SGTech suggested that in addition to focusing on skills rather than paper qualifications when it comes to hiring and developing talent.
It added that Singapore could take a multi-stakeholder approach that will help experienced local professionals, managers, executives, technicians and mid-career hires to secure higher-value tech roles. After all, it noted, not all tech-sector roles require deep and highly specialised technical skills.
“The tech industry relies on a range of auxiliary operational functions to keep businesses running on a day-to-day basis such as: customer-facing technical advisors, system managers, analysts, administrators, data centre engineers, etc. These roles are high value jobs that fall between tech-lite and tech-heavy jobs,” it wrote in its release. “Personnel fit for these roles do not need to come with a tech background or prior experience in the tech industry. Instead, these roles require individuals that come with transferable skills and capabilities that can be applied across sectors.”
It continued by saying that helping these individuals identify jobs would also help address key challenges faced by the tech industry due to increased competitiveness in the job market.
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When it comes to tech for sustainability, SGTech noted that there were significant discussions happening around tech being a major contributor to environmental pollution. SGTech added that particularly amongst SMEs, greenhouse gases and waste reduction practices are seen as additional costs and resource burdens, risking Singapore’s competitiveness and ability to meet sustainability targets.
To combat that, it recommended tiered cash rebates that would incentivise SMEs who leverage on tech to transform its internal practices towards sustainability.
It also suggested that the government could give a one-time cash rebate to each SME that submits proof of an internal corporate sustainability review and the implemented recommendations as a result. It could also explore importing new models of sustainability measurements from other countries.
Finally, SGTech recommended setting up a “Future of Tech Global Advisory” that will help promote layman knowledge on new, emerging technologies to industry leaders across all economic sectors.
“In our present global economy, digital technology and skills have become a horizontal enabler which cut across all industries, not just solely relatable to the technology or Information and Communications Technology-related companies. Therefore, it is imperative that knowledge of new and emerging technology should be widely propagated to businesses of all industry sectors, so as to ensure companies in Singapore are able to seize first mover opportunities and maintain their competitiveness in the global arena,” it wrote in its release.
It added that advisors to form this advisory would be global business leaders from private sectors and hailing from varying economic sectors.
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