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IMDA, mobile network operators to hire, reskill 1,000 professionals in 5G

THE Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has partnered mobile network operators (MNOs) in Singapore to hire and reskill 1,000 professionals to support the Republic's 5G rollout.

Of these, 30 per cent are new roles, while the remaining are telecom professionals who will be upskilled in the areas of 5G network, cybersecurity and solution engineering to future-proof their jobs, IMDA said on Tuesday.

It added that demand for 5G professionals is expected to grow as Singapore's 5G rollout gathers momentum and more enterprises participate in the ecosystem.

IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong said that, following the Republic's investment in building infrastructure capabilities, talent development is the "next critical phase" of Singapore's investment in 5G.

"We have worked with the local MNOs to unlock the potential of 5G for these 1,000 professionals and will continue to do so to create good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans," he said. "At the same time, to ensure we have a strong pipeline of 5G talent who are skilled and ready, IMDA is leading efforts to appoint credible training partners to develop 5G skills across the ecosystem."

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The first wave of training with the MNOs' 5G professionals will begin at the end of 2020, Mr Lew said.

Under the TechSkills Accelerator initiative, IMDA has set up 5G Workforce Transformation Committees with the MNOs to oversee the planning and development of their 5G workforce capabilities.

In addition, the authority will be appointing a consortium, comprising the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Polytechnic, as the 5G and Telecoms Programme Manager.

NUS and Singapore Poly will aggregate hiring and training requirements from the committees and wider 5G ecosystem players to co-develop quality training to meet demand and enable Singaporeans to take on 5G jobs, IMDA said.

M1 chief executive Manjot Singh Mann said the company has embarked on early 5G partnerships with institutes of higher learning, and remains open to collaborating with more schools for students to gain experience with real-world 5G applications, helping them pursue a profession in the industry.

Singtel group chief human resources officer Aileen Tan said building capability in 5G and getting "the right workforce" in place has become a key resource priority for the company. Singtel has begun training and reskilling employees in the areas of network infrastructure and enterprise solutions, with a focus on developing critical 5G skill sets in connectivity, platforms, analytics and insights and user experience, she added.

StarHub chief human resource officer Catherine Chia said the company is investing in its workforce's learning and development to nurture new skill sets "in step with the fast-changing business environment".

TPG Telecom chief technology officer Benjamin Tan said the company is looking forward to pursuing "a progressive timeline" towards the commercial realisation of its high-bandwidth, mmWave based solutions. It welcomes the efforts of the committees to ensure that it has sufficient local resources in the workforce to enable its vision, Mr Tan added.

Susanna Leong, NUS vice-provost (masters' programmes and lifelong education), dean (School of Continuing & Lifelong Education) said the university hopes to contribute in catalysing the development of innovative 5G applications and services, and enabling the transformative impact of 5G for enterprises.

Singapore Polytechnic principal and chief executive Soh Wai Wah said the 5G and Telecoms Programme Manager serves as a platform to promote digital transformation and innovations to enterprises and boost education and training for 5G talent.

He added: "As a growth lever, it will enable us to harness the processing speed that is needed to unlock the potential of Big Data and AI (artificial intelligence) for scaling up and contributing to Singapore's Smart Nation vision."

IMDA said it plans to work with the industry and equip a total of 5,000 professionals over the next three years to develop a strong workforce with 5G skills.

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