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Foreigners needed to fill Singapore tech jobs crunch, says central banker

05/04/2021 | 04:53am EDT
Office workers walk to the train station during evening rush hour in the financial district of Singapore

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A boom in technology jobs across all sectors in Singapore and a shortage of tech workers means the country will have to rely on foreigners to fill the gap, Ravi Menon, the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Tuesday.

Singapore is emerging as a regional tech hub but headhunters say it faces a severe talent crunch as more firms move in. This is partly because of government policies to tighten foreign hiring to offset falling Singaporean employment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Singaporeans make up just over one-third of the estimated 25,000 tech workforce in the local financial sector, Menon said during a webinar on job opportunities in the financial services and tech jobs in the industry.

"The competition for tech talent is economy-wide as more sectors embark on digitalisation," said Menon, adding that the pipeline of local tech graduates wasn't enough to fill the vacancies.

The city-state, an Asian base for many multi-nationals and banks, is home to global companies such as Facebook and Alphabet's Google, while ByteDance and Zoom are hiring aggressively in the country of 5.7 million people.

The large mismatch between demand and supply of tech workers meant that "we have to continue to depend on foreigners to fill the growing vacancies for technology jobs over the next few years," Menon said.

"If we tighten this inflow excessively, it will impair not just the competitiveness of our financial centre but dampen the prospects for creating good jobs in the future, especially for Singaporeans," he said.

Singapore also needs to build a strong pipeline of local tech talent by involving financial institutions, individuals and the government, the central banker said.

The Singapore government has imposed tighter immigration curbs but also said it must remain open to overseas talent.

Effective this year, Singapore rolled out a new work visa for foreign executives of tech firms.

The country's total employment in 2020 shrank the most in more than two decades.

(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

By Anshuman Daga

© Reuters 2021
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