Despite Singapore’s small size as a nation compared to the other world powers, it has not faltered in advancing its technological advancements and according to Jeff Zhang, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Group, has become “well known for its world-leading technology R&D institutions, strong base of academic research talent, a population that is receptive to the next big thing in technology, and supportive government policies”. A 2017 index ranked the Republic among the world’s best for the strength of IP protections, demonstrating Singapore’s commitment to nurturing and protecting high-value innovation.
So what does this mean for PR and Citizenship applicants with the relevant experience and expertise?
Gearing Singapore into a SmartNation
The emergence of Singapore as a Smart Nation and a world-class technology hub in Asia has made it a favoured destination for firms looking to springboard into the region’s growing markets. According to this article from the Economic Development Board (SG),
- 80 out of the world’s top 100 tech firms have operations in the city and they are increasing investments
- 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index ranks Singapore number 6 in the world, ahead of Japan and the US
In an article by Today, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo highlights that there had been a growth in employment in this industry with more than 4000 more residents being employed. If foreign workers are to be included, the growth of employment would be about 6000, making there an increase of about 4.5%. When we deep dive into industry specifics, we can identify this growth dominated by new jobs specifically within the Technology and Innovation sector, with demand in such specific skillsets leading the way.
Singapore Needs Specialised Talent
At the same time, there is a need for specialised talent for this new industry, with the introduction of new AI technology, like Alibaba Group and YITU Technology (two global AI heavyweights) enlarging their footprint in Singapore.
In a 2017 report by McKinsey Global Institute, the potential value pool created by ASEAN by proactive AI adoption is estimated at S$1.2 trillion. Singapore is currently leading the region in AI experimentation across multiple industries and is the top location for AI and robotics investment in 2018. Singapore’s value propositions as an AI hub include strong support for public-private partnership initiatives as well as integrated IT-enabled services across diverse areas.
Collaborations and Tie-Ups with Local Educational Institutions
More and more tech giants have decided to invest in partnering with universities and polytechnics in order to teach the skills needed for the industry with the future in mind. In an article from the Economic Development Board (SG), Tech giant Alibaba announced plans earlier this year for a multi-million-dollar collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Alibaba-NTU Singapore Joint Research Institute, to deploy AI solutions in scenarios ranging from home, retail, community and urban transportation to hospitals and nursing homes. NTU is ranked by Nikkei and Elsevier as the top university in the world for AI research citations in 2017.
The advantage is clearly there for PRs and citizens alike to secure these highly sought after places within the universities at subsidised fees. What this means is that in time to come, new jobs can be filled by PRs and Citizens instead of continuously relying on foreign talent. This presents a place in Singapore to expand their careers in the Technology sector.
Are You a Tech Expert with Entrepreneurial Ambitions?
Entrepreneurs who are looking to set up their own business in technology but are afraid of being overshadowed by larger, rich firms can rejoice. Even with big technology corporations like Facebook and Alibaba heavily investing into Singapore, there are still multiple opportunities available that can involve startups.
In fact, there was an article on Today earlier in the year that detailed the collaboration between Facebook and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) jointly launching a 6-month programme to support data driven start-ups in Singapore and around the region. Called Startup Station Singapore, the opportunity includes mentorship opportunities and training being given by Facebook. A Facebook spokesperson mentions the availability of access to “mentors within the Facebook network and externally” and how they would help these start-ups “form connections with investors and provide them with… training, tools, and input throughout the programme.”
Our Thoughts and Key Takeaways as Immigration Professionals
- Singapore is becoming a platform for big companies to set up their technology advancements, especially since it is considered a Smart City. The bylaws put in place allows for greater security of data and is a main attraction for international investors and corporates to use Singapore as a stepping stone into the Asia Pacific. This will boost Singapore’s economy and also create a multitude of new jobs – an opportunity for foreign talent. This is a peak time for people looking to immigrate to Singapore as the amount of jobs in Singapore is looking to rise and some estimate that 30,000 infocomm jobs, including tech engineering jobs, need to be filled by 2020. This means an increase in establishment of companies and number of jobs available for specialised positions, giving a chance for foreign talent to move to Singapore for a chance to work in one of the best industries for technology in the world.
- The need for specialised talent brings about opportunities in upgrading one’s skills. Foreign talent with existing jobs in Singapore should look to upgrade their skillsets to not only remain relevant in the market, but also increase their chances in securing PR statuses. For foreign workers already working in Singapore, there have been numerous government schemes to upgrade skills of workers. For individuals with the correct skillset, this means a greater chance for their PR/CTZ applications to succeed as well, since the government would want to retain and develop their knowledge and expertise for the long term.
- A prime reason for foreign talent with family to move to Singapore is to secure a world class education system for their children. The opportunities given for higher education would rightly attract them to apply for PR status. Additionally, strategic partnerships between Tech titans like Alibaba and local institutions will bring about more opportunities for furthering their child’s education. This is an added incentive for applicants to apply for PR status for the whole family.
- Lastly, for entrepreneurs, the introduction of Startup Station Singapore, is the first of its kind in Asia. This is something that should not be passed up by entrepreneurs who have been planning for the longest time to put their plans into action. 2019 indeed looks promising for PR applicants looking to contribute further to Singapore’s growing economy.