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May 2000, Volume 7, Number 5

Singapore: IT Industry

Singapore is searching for ways to keep up with the demand for skilled IT workers. The current IT and communications work force is about 93,000, but the government projects that 250,000 skilled workers will be needed by 2010. The Singapore Ministry of Education has set a target to have 30 percent of the school curriculum computer-based, with industry playing a role in determining the curriculum.

There are 450,000 unskilled foreign workers in Singapore, and 500,000 Singaporeans with less than secondary education. Some experts want Singapore to do more to retrain local workers rather than importing foreign professionals.

Government agencies will try to encourage high-caliber IT and e-commerce experts to work and live in Singapore. The program will include recruitment trips overseas and preferential treatment for foreigners with IT skills. One recruitment program, the Strategic Manpower Conversion Program, targets foreigners who are not trained in IT, but who are interested and have the right aptitude to switch to IT jobs through special retraining programs. Some fear that foreign professionals will use Singapore to gain entry to the international labor market as, for example, traveling from Bangladesh to Singapore, and then on to Australia.

Singapore has very tight immigration controls. Landlords are required to check on the immigration status of renters, and 300 people—including housewives, grandmothers and professionals—were arrested in 1999 for harboring immigration offenders. Some landlords were jailed for up to 12 months. The government reports that about 12,000 private rental agreements are made in Singapore each year.

Adam Creed, "Singapore Unveils Plans to Address IT Skills Shortages," Newsbyts, March 6, 2000.