Read the Straits Times article on “Employers roll out skills training to address shortage of tech talents” by Tay Hong Yi dated on 31 March 2022.

Vacancies for some tech roles at Prudential Singapore have taken two or three times longer to fill. Ms Neetha Nair, head of future-ready workforce at the insurer, told the Straits Times this has been the company’s experience with recruiting software developers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They could be recruited in one to two months previously, but now require around three months. Openings for other roles, such as scientists and development operations engineers, are also taking longer to fill, she added.

“Senior and niche tech roles, such as data scientists, tend to be more challenging to fill, as they have a smaller pool of suitable candidates,” she said. Prudential’s experience is not unique in a job market that currently faces a broad-based crunch in tech talent. According to job market statistics released by the Ministry of Manpower earlier this month, growth sectors such as financial services, information and communications accounted for 28 percent of total vacancies, but only 18 percent of employment in the fourth quarter of last year.

A survey of more than 2,000 employers and 7,000 workers commissioned last August by cloud computing provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) also found a growing gap between the digital skills that employers require and those that workers possess. An estimated 86 million more people will require digital skills training over the next year across seven countries it studied in the region – with Singapore accounting for 600,000 – to keep pace with accelerating digitalisation. Cloud computing is one of several nascent specialisations where developments have been outpacing Singapore’s ability to develop human capital and meet the talent demand, said Mr Daljit Sall, a senior director of information technology at recruitment firm Randstad.

“Cyber security and cloud (computing) are growing so rapidly that some education institutions are only just starting to offer professional qualifications for these skills to create a new supply of talent,” he said, adding that other tech roles that face high demand include software engineers, block chain experts and those involving artificial intelligence. Mr Sall also said vacancies that are left unfilled for a long time may slow down or stagnate projects.

“Additionally, existing talents will have to bear the burden of these unfilled roles – which may entail taking on responsibilities for which they lack specialised skills.” For example, a user experience designer may delve into backend coding to solve issues and create new functions in computer programs if they do not have enough developers on hand to help them. This increased workload puts great strain on existing tech workers, which could lead to burnout and cause and even greater talent shortage at the workplace, he said.

Mr Sarab Preet Singh, Asean and Singapore head of human resources at Citi, said the bank had to evolve in the ways and places it recruits from. This includes #BackToWork, a programme to support women re-entering the job market, started together with social enterprise [email protected] He added that returning women have been hired for roles in operations and technology, as well as wealth management. Mr Emmanuel Pillai, AWS head of training and certification for Asia-Pacific and Japan, said both public and private sector organisations have a responsibility to collaborate on providing digital skills training to the workforce. The company launched the wide-ranging Cloud Ready SG with AWS skills training programme together with the Economic Development Board last June.

Targeting new graduates, early career workers and mid-career professionals, the programme has various offerings ranging from traineeship to free online courses, to benefit as many in the general workforce as possible. Meanwhile, Mr Tim MacCartney, senior vice-president of the Asia-Pacific at CoachHub, reckons the firm’s live training can help other companies accelerate their staff’s skills and knowledge. The human resources tech start-up provides certified business coaches who can remotely conduct live training on a range of disciplines including digital skills. The company opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore earlier this year and currently works with clients across different sectors.

“Too often, traditional approaches to learning are applied – almost a tick-the-box exercise to say ‘yes, we have completed classroom training or an e-learning (exercise)’, but the retention rate of what’s taught drops dramatically just days after the learning event. “Coaching, however, reinforces behaviour and promotes regular action to deepen awareness and self-discovery from day to day.”

Answer the following questions pertaining to the above newspaper article and other related materials on tech talents in Singapore.

(a) With reference from the article, the workforce planning strategies to fill in the tech talent shortage is not only at the recruitment stage but also at the retention stage of workforce planning components. Examine FOUR (4) possible retention strategies that can used by tech companies to retain its talents and to close the talent shortage in the long term.

(b) Select a company from the technology industry with operations in Singapore (except those companies mentioned in the above article) and describe the profile of the selected company. The profile of the company should include some of the following points that will be relevant to consider in terms workforce planning.

(c) Evaluate THREE (3) external factors that would have impacted the selected company in Singapore in terms of workforce planning. Support your evaluation with rationale.

(d) Develop the workforce planning process with reference to the framework that you have learnt which the selected company should adopt. You should develop the process based on the analysis and evaluation in (b) & (c).

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