Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 07 February 2018

Reply to Parliamentary Question on talent and skills in the financial sector




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 6 February 2018

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Sun Xueling, MP, Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC


To ask the Prime Minister (a) what are the manpower gaps in quantum computing, big data and artificial intelligence; (b) whether upskilling of professionals in the local financial sector will be sufficient to provide the talent needed for these fields; and (c) whether there are plans to bring in foreign skilled professionals to complement our local professionals.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1. Data analytics, machine learning and AI are some of the skills in growing demand in the financial sector. There is also nascent growth in demand for quantum computing skills.

2. As a global financial centre, it is important that financial institutions in Singapore build capacity and competencies in these areas, and they are doing so. More than 20 financial institutions have set up innovation labs or research centres in Singapore, specialising in areas such as data science and machine learning.
3. In building up capacity, shortage of talent remains the key bottleneck. Equipping our local professionals with deep capabilities in these new areas is therefore a priority. To do this, MAS is driving a multi-prong approach.

4. First, to encourage financial institutions to upgrade the skills of their staff in data analytics, MAS launched a $27 million Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant scheme last year. MAS has seen keen interest from the industry since the introduction of the scheme.

5. Second, the Institute of Banking and Finance is offering professionals new learning modules on data science, human-centric design, agile thinking, and cyber security awareness. IMDA, SSG and WSG, under the TechSkills Accelerator initiative are also expanding opportunities for skills upgrading.

6. Third, MAS is working closely with the institutes of higher learning to scale up efforts to build the talent pipeline in emerging technologies. This includes more courses in FinTech specialisation, and also more modular, industry-relevant courses in emerging technologies. For example, MAS partnered local polytechnics in the PolyFinTech 100 initiative, and has equipped more than 1,500 students with skillsets relevant to FinTech.

7. However, growing our own timber takes time. While we build up our local pipeline in these specialist skills, we need to anchor strong international capabilities and talent in Singapore to complement our existing local professionals. But such talent is scarce even internationally, and we must ensure an attractive environment for them in Singapore. MAS is working with the MOM and WSG to pilot the Capability Transfer Programme to bring in expert professionals in these areas, and facilitate the transfer of capabilities to our local professionals.

8. We will continue to take a holistic approach, doing all we can to develop our local pipeline of talent, and tapping on international expertise and talents.