IBM to hire and train 300 S'poreans over next 4 years

IBM will hire and train 300 Singaporeans in emerging technological areas over the next four years, under a memorandum of intent (MOI) that the tech giant and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) signed yesterday.

Applicants will receive training for roles such as data scientists and cloud architects in the company-led initiative, which falls under IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator programme.

Of the 300 roles on offer, 60 are for mid-career professionals, while the other 240 are open to both new and mid-career professionals.

The initiative is part of IBM’s Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce Programme, which aims to meet the demand for technology consulting and deep technical skills – both needed to support the acceleration of digital transformation across all industries.

It is also in support of the SG-United Jobs and Skills Package.

Participants in IBM’s programme will be exposed to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and the Internet of Things.

They will be assigned to work with local, regional and global teams on a variety of projects to gain practical experience.

Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said that the MOI is part of ongoing efforts between IMDA, the Digital Industry Singapore government office and industry partners to create jobs and training opportunities for Singaporeans.

He added that the close collaboration between government agencies and the industry will help generate employment opportunities and furthermore ensure that the skills received by programme participants – such as cyber security and data analytics – are validated by the industry.

This partnership with industry players is key, Mr Iswaran said, especially in terms of recruiting Singaporeans into job opportunities.

“In the ICT sector, which is a bright spot in the economy, we can identify opportunities together with them,” he noted.​

300 Number of Singaporeans IBM will hire and train in emerging tech areas over the next four years.

60 Number of roles for mid-career professionals.

240 Number of roles open to both new and mid-career professionals.

“At the same time, through this partnership and through the (company-led training programme), we are able to work with them to help adapt the skillsets of the people that they have identified, so that they can move into these positions and hit the ground running.”

Ms Lee Hui Li, managing partner of Asean Global Business Services at IBM, said: “We take a holistic, outcomes-focused view which encompasses people, processes and technology.

“That is why, in addition to skills development, our Future-Ready Intelligent Digital Workforce programme will place emphasis on the practical application of those skills in real-world business scenarios so that, for example, data and AI can make workflows smarter and insights are applied to improve the customer experience.”

Last month, e-commerce platform Shopee’s parent company Sea signed a MOI with IMDA for a company-led initiative to hire and train around 500 Singaporeans over the next two years.

Other participating companies with job opportunities on offer under the IMDA’s company-led training programme include cyber security firm Ensign InfoSecurity and professional services firm KPMG.

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Why is China regulating Big Tech now?

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Governments around the world put out consultation papers all the time. But only in China can one vaguely worded, 22-page document on antitrust regulations ignite a US$290 billion (S$391 billion) equity selloff. As investors nurse their wounds, they want to know, why is China regulating Big Tech now? And what exactly does Beijing want?

Emerging out of the Covid-19 recession, China got whacked by a K-shaped rebound. The economy is running at two speeds: Large technology companies are thriving, while storefront businesses continue to struggle. A year ago, e-commerce accounted for about 25 per cent of total retail sales; now, it’s edging toward 30 per cent. The pandemic has only exacerbated the discrepancy between online and offline. This widening inequality doesn’t sit well with Beijing.

To make matters worse, Big Tech has been aggressive and unwilling to share profits with small businesses on their sites. In the antitrust draft, Beijing placed a heavy focus on the so-called “pick one of the two” tactic, the practice of forcing merchants into exclusive arrangements with one platform. Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, longtime competitors, even asked powerful investment banks to pick sides. So where do mom-and-pop shops stand?

The tech sector’s heavy-handedness caused quite a bit of social uproar earlier this year. In April, when China just came out of the lockdown, Guangdong Restaurant Association published an open letter to Meituan, decrying the food delivery super-app’s ability to keep raising commission fees thanks to its 60 per cent to 90 per cent market share in the province. The company has made some concessions since.

But the broader problem hasn’t gone away. If sales of offline goods remain shaky, services are still in the doghouse. In September, catering sales continued to contract, down 2.9 per cent from a year earlier. Many jobs are at stake for Beijing. Last year, the hotel and catering industry employed 33 million.

Past consultation papers have also moved markets. Education stocks were all the rage until August 2018, when China decided to amend rules governing the country’s lucrative private education sector.

But these papers are, by definition, drafts. Beijing does tweak them. For instance, China is allowing banks to grow online cash-loan businesses, after the final version of commercial-bank guidelines relaxed capital requirements for this type of lending in July. The two previous consultation drafts in November 2018 and April 2019 were stricter, notes CLSA’s banking analyst Hans Fan.

So the billion dollar question is the scope and extent of China’s latest regulation. Don’t get me wrong, Beijing recognizes the economic benefit of natural monopolies. So if Alibaba wants to cross-sell cloud services, go ahead. But officials will balk big time if hard-nosed tech companies exacerbate a K-shaped recovery. All win some, not some win all.

• Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron’s, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.

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