Minister Thinks Singapore Needs to Stop Snubbing Seniors for Fintech Talent

Minister Thinks Singapore Needs to Stop Snubbing Seniors for Fintech Talent

by April 26, 2019

Technology isn’t just changing the way businesses work, it is also impacting careers across all fields and disciplines. This is especially true for the financial sector, as financial services institutions are investing heavily in new technological capabilities to enhance competitive positioning and operating efficiencies.

While it may seem like a rat race when it comes to adopting new technologies, it is crucial to not neglect the humans who will ultimately be driving that change.

An ageing workforce

In Singapore, the traditional “hire-and-fire strategy” – hiring people with the skills for emerging jobs and firing those in less relevant jobs – will no longer work. In fact, they are looking to the country’s seniors to build a strong technologically literate workforce.

In a recent keynote address at IBF Careers Connect, Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, emphasised on the importance of re-employment and career mobility for the senior population.

“The dominant strategy for many financial services firms has been to go out and hire at top dollar. But if this your primary response to the tech challenge, I’m afraid you will soon hit roadblocks,” Teo said.

Teo added that the demand for tech skills will grow much faster than supply. She suggested that financial services should plan for workforce transformation and build talents instead.

For many Singaporeans, career isn’t a destination they stay in for the rest of their lives; it is an ever changing journey that provides opportunity to learn, grow and be recognised for their efforts.

This is especially relevant, as the half-life for any learned skills has been shrinking, with some suggesting that we may be down to five years at this point. In other words, half of the knowledge you’ve acquired five years ago is now obsolete.

Considering the fact that people are living longer and producing less children, a growing fraction of the working population are senior workers. In Singapore, about 1 in 3 employed residents today is aged 50 and above.

Jobs at risk

Singapore’s banking and financial services industry is tackling the challenges of adapting fintech head on by addressing the talent gap that will eventually form in today’s workforce.

Especially for many workers in routine, repetitive jobs, the risk of being replaced by robots is very high. This is true even for Singapore’s Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) workers, who will no doubt see their job requirements transformed by technology.

Recently, the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) commissioned a study on how data analytics and automation specifically would impact jobs in the immediate future.

The report covers 121 job roles in Singapore’s financial services industry, representing over 90 per cent of jobs in the financial sector. Of all the job roles that were analysed, over one third face the risk of being merged or made redundant as technology substitutes a significant proportion of job tasks.

“Across all job roles, individuals would be required to take on new or expanded tasks that have a higher element of judgement and creativity, while tasks of a more repetitive and rules-based nature are automated,” the report stated.


Upskilling for all

In response to the study, the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) have jointly launched the Technology in Finance Immersion Programme (TFIP), which aims to upskill mid-career professionals, giving them the opportunity to take up tech jobs that are opening up in the financial sectors.

The TFIP is a specially curated programme designed to help Singaporeans access new job opportunities. It does not require individuals to be in tech related jobs, or even have a financial background.

According to the MAS, more than 20,000 individuals went through MAS/IBF supported upskilling programmes in 2018. Financial institutions have committed to reskill close to 4,000 finance professionals and redeploy them in new or expanded jobs over the next two years.

1,700 have started on this journey, of which 800 have successfully transitioned into new roles.

As of today, the IBF and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have noted the strong support of seven financial institutions, committed to offering more than 70 places across the different domains.

“In this era of technology-driven transformation, helping our people become tech-enabled is essential. It is not just for people to achieve career mobility throughout life, but also a smart business move to get ahead,” Teo concluded.