Future-Ready: How Is Singapore Developing Its Fintech Talent Pool?by Fintech News Singapore July 13, 2021
As the fintech ecosystem continues to flourish in Singapore, there is a growing need for talent. Out of the 21,000 net jobs that were created in the financial sector over the last five years, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) estimates that 25% of these jobs were in the technology sector.
Interestingly, although Singaporeans filled 75% of the total net jobs, they accounted for only 35% of the tech jobs. The problem, MAS states, is not the number of jobs, but rather the gap in skills. MAS also estimates that 2,500 to 3,500 technology jobs will be created in the financial sector annually over the medium term.
Additionally, key findings from the Singapore Talent Survey 2020 in the report ‘Seizing Opportunities for Growth’ by PwC Singapore, the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), and the Banking and Financial Services Union (BFSU) revealed that the majority of fintech firms are optimistic about their growth prospect. These firms have plans to hire more people in the near future and are progressively shifting towards hiring local talent.
To prepare for this, the government together with these institutions are working towards creating a strong fintech talent pipeline, equipped with the relevant skills for tomorrow’s workforce.
Let’s take a look at some of the government-led initiatives to lay the foundations of a strong fintech talent pool in Singapore.
TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA)
Through TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), a statutory board in the Singapore government, partners with Workforce Singapore (WSG), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), industry partners, and hiring employers to reskill and upskill individuals before placing them into technology roles.
Apart from fresh information and communications technology (ICT) graduates, TeSA also offers programmes to support current ICT professionals and non-ICT professionals who are looking to upgrade and acquire new skills. It is also open to employers in ICT and non-ICT companies who are looking to develop existing employees with relevant ICT skills.
MAS reports that through TeSA’s Company-Led Training (CLT) programme and TeSA Mid-Career Advance, over 500 professionals have been placed into tech roles in the financial sector, such as software developers and data analysts.
Professional Conversion Programmes
The Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) gives an opportunity to professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs) to go through skills conversion and enter into new occupations and this includes mid-career switches.
There are three different modes of PCPs. Under the ‘Place and Train’ model, a PMET can be first hired by an employer before being trained for the new role. Alternatively, under the ‘Attach and Train’ model, a PMET is trained and given work attachment, prior to the job placement. Meanwhile, under ‘Redeployment / Job Redesign Reskilling’, companies with PMET workers who are facing redundancy due to a business transformation will also be trained to take on new jobs or redesigned job roles within the same company.
The Technology in Finance Immersion Programme, or TFIP, is an ‘Attach and Train’ PCP model. It is targeted to assist individuals to gain experiences in new technology areas in the financial services sector such as data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Successful applicants will then undergo structured training with industry-recognised training providers and an attachment with a financial institution.
TFIP is a joint initiative between the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), in consultation with IMDA and MAS. As of 4 May 2021, Ravi Menon, the Managing Director of MAS, reported that there are 190 trainees under this programme, as compared to only 70 in 2019. One out of three falls under the mature age group category or were without a job when they joined the programme.
Enhanced Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme (FSTI 2.0)
In August 2020, MAS announced a S$250 million commitment over the next three years under the enhanced Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme (FSTI 2.0). Among its objectives are to encourage the expansion of existing innovation labs and to groom local talent, where MAS will co-fund 50 percent of incremental Singaporean hires for 24 months in qualifying roles in existing innovating centres.
Additionally, new projects under the Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) track, financial institution-level projects, and industry-wide projects can now receive funding support for capability transfer-related training costs such as expenses incurred to send local employees overseas for training, or expenses incurred when employing specialists to train the local talent pool.
Since 2015, there were more than 200 financial institutions and fintechs that have participated in the FSTI scheme, leading to the formation of more than 40 innovation labs by Singaporean financial institutions. In return, 180 high-value jobs have been created in the funded innovation labs, with Singaporeans holding 60% of these jobs.
Recognising the gap in the fintech talent pool, these institutions are also forming strategic collaborations to strengthen the talent pipeline with relevant skills through education.
National University of Singapore (NUS) – FinTechSG Programme
On 6 July 2020, the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing launched the NUS-FinTechSG Programme. Students will have the opportunity to learn about contemporary issues in the fintech industry, front-end and back-end development, cloud systems, blockchain, algorithmic trading, and the integration of financial domain know-how. Additionally, they can also apply for a full-time traineeship between nine months to a year with leading financial institutions and companies such as the Bank of Singapore and Razer.
WeBank/Singapore Management University (SMU)
In early 2020, WeBank, a digital-only bank in China and the Singapore Management University (SMU) formed a collaboration and signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to work together on curriculum and practice design for blockchain courses. One of the objectives of this partnership is to foster a culture of innovation in blockchain practices among SMU students.
On May 12, it recently completed its summer enrichment programme on FISCO BCOS Blockchain Experience for this academic year. However, there are plans to continue this collaboration in the latter half of 2021. Launched by the FISCO open source working group in 2017, FISCO BCOS is a secure, easy-to-use, and high-performance financial grade blockchain platform. Through this enrichment programme, students were exposed to the basic knowledge of FISCO BCOS and its open-source community.
SMU/AMTD Group/Xiaomi Finance/The Institute of Systems Science at NUS
SMU also partnered with AMTD Group, Xiaomi Finance, and the Institute of Systems Science at NUS (NUS-ISS) and launched the ‘AMTD-Xiaomi-SMU-ISS Digital Finance Leadership Programme’ (AXSI Programme) on June 18, 2020.
With a S$5million contribution from AMTD Group and Xiaomi Finance for SMU and NUS-ISS to develop the relevant curriculum, the AXSI programme is catered for senior executives, regulatory leaders, and fintech entrepreneurs from the financial technology sectors in Asia.
The AXSI Programme is a ten-day learning journey, with the first five days focused on five key skills, which are social, business, technology, design, and new skills and covering topics of the new financial ecosystem, financial innovation, fintech solutions, cybersecurity, sustainability, and green finance. The remaining five days involve an offsite learning experience. There are two intakes each year for the AXSI Programme, with each intake comprising up to 25 participants.
The programme aims to help participants gain more knowledge about digital business transformation and digital finance so that they are equipped with the relevant skills in the midst of the digital disruption. Participants of the programme will also have the opportunity to undergo two days of learning journeys in Hong Kong and Beijing, hosted by AMTD and Xiaomi Finance, respectively.
Global Fintech Institute/Singapore University of Social Sciences and the Shanghai Institute of International Finance Centre
The Global Fintech Institute, a global association of fintech professionals that is headquartered in Singapore, announced on 26 August 2020 that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Shanghai Institute of International Finance Centre (SIIFC) to introduce a new Chartered FinTech Professional (CFtP) qualification.
The CFtP qualification is suitable for professionals outside the fintech industry who are keen to start a career in fintech. There are two levels in the CFtP which covers finance, financial technology, applications, and professional practice.
Singapore Fintech Association -Fintech Talent Programme
The SFA has a three-month programme that is open to applicants with a polytechnic diploma or degree in information technology, business, or any other relevant disciplines. However, applicants who do not have any of these qualifications may be considered if they have a minimum of 5 years of relevant working experience or supporting evidence of competency readiness. Among its course syllabus include cybersecurity, digital currencies, blockchains and IoT, cloud computing, and the API economy. The SFA is a cross-industry non-profit initiative with a mission to be a platform where stakeholders can work together towards the growth of Singapore’s fintech ecosystem.
Financial Institutions Are Also Stepping In
Financial institutions are also playing a part in building Singapore’s fintech talent pool. These are some of the initiatives launched by several financial institutions in Singapore.
The bank launched diSCover Lab, a global learning hub at Standard Chartered @ Changi 1, through which it aims to train and upskill 8,000 of its employees by 2022. This initiative would give employees an opportunity to learn a new skill or upgrade their existing skill sets through a combination of face-to-face and virtual training. They will have access to learning modules and curriculum in topics such as blockchain, data, AI, and personal development.
The aXess Academy, one out of the nine academies in the hub, hopes to train more than 2,100 of its Singapore-based technology talents through a customised curriculum in areas such as cloud transformation, open banking solutions, data centricity, cybersecurity, and client digital journeys.
Michael Gorriz, the bank’s Group Chief Information Officer, was quoted as saying that deepening their tech capabilities in Singapore and building the latest skills is critical to prepare them for the future.
Through its skills development programme, the incumbent bank seeks to build its talent pool by training individuals with a background in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) for roles throughout the bank in areas such as product development, platform infrastructure, or information security. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to have on-the-job training, supplemental training through workshops and events, and explore ideas and opportunities through different projects.
To build its talent pool, the Singapore Apprenticeship Programme is a one-year programme by JP Morgan for polytechnic graduates. Successful applicants will have a one-week introductory training covering product knowledge, personal development, and professional skills before gaining on-the-job experience in areas such as operation and technology. Those who show excellent performance throughout the programme may be invited to join JP Morgan as an intern or full-time employee during or after university.