Government gives boost to professional services industry of Singapore

07 February 2018 4 min. read

The Singaporean government has unveiled a national roadmap to support the development of the professional services industry in the city-state. The initiatives will aim to generate an additional 5,500 jobs in the sector per year with a projected value-add of S$31 billion by 2020.

In a bid to propel the nation toward global market leadership in high-value specialist services, the Singaporean Ministry of Finance has announced a suite of new initiatives in its industry transformation map (ITM), with a focus on driving innovation and developing specialised skills in the consulting, accounting, legal, advertising and engineering services sectors.

As it stands, the professional services industry of Singapore represents 6.5% of the nation’s GDP at a worth of S$25 billion in value-add, employing more than 230,000 people to constitute 6.4% of its total workforce. The roadmap will aim to add 5,500 new professional service employees to this figure each year, and push the industry’s value-add out to S$31 billion by 2020 at an average growth rate of 4.6%.

Described as a ‘nationwide effort to take professional services to the next level’, the programmes announced in conjunction with the ITM will be largely developed in cooperation with private and public enterprises, and concentrate on identified growth areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Only recently, the global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney had urged the ASEAN bloc to develop its skilled cybersecurity capacity, noting a projected worldwide shortfall of some 2 million trained professionals by the end of next year.

The ITM document states; “Partnerships are critical to the growth and transformation of the industry. In this respect, the Government will work closely with key partners such as industry associations and professional bodies, as well as the unions, so that they can be the multipliers in driving the transformation of their respective subsectors and equipping our workforce to be future-ready.” The paper also outlines its goal to drive the export of services to regional and global markets, hoping to grow more local firms such as Allen & Gledhill, Surbana Jurong, and Meinhardt.

Government gives boost to professional  services industry of Singapore

New Initiatives

The planned initiatives will seek to reskill and upskill professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in the development of new competencies, with ventures including the launch of further Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) under Singapore’s Adapt & Grow project, with offerings in programmatic advertising, internal audit, UX/UI, and information modeling to be added to the already ten programmes relevant to the professional services industry previously put in place.

In addition, the government will seek to foster greater coordination between higher learning institutes and firms within the professional service industry to ensure relevant training and education – with programmes to date having enrolled over 130 participants with companies such as the Big Four outfits PwC and Deloitte – as well as facilitate collaborations between companies, start-ups and research institutes to strengthen and drive innovation. 

Innovation underway

In respect to innovation, the ITM release notes the efforts from the leading international firms which have already established Centres of Excellence (COE) in the country, including strategy giants McKinsey’s Digital Capability Centre, Deloitte’s Future of Work COE, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Singapore Cyber Security Solutions Center, the three advanced Building Information Modelling Technologies COEs developed by Mott MacDonald, and the communications agency Dentsu Aegis Network’s Global Data Innovation Centre.

“With the world of business rapidly transforming and digitalising, the consequent demand for new services and solutions presents both opportunities and challenges for Professional Services,” stated Teo Lay Lim, co-chair for the Finance Ministry’s Modern Services subcommittee and ASEAN Managing Director of Accenture, “The good news is we are in a position of strength to capture these opportunities – Singapore is already a reference market for complex, cross-border projects.”

Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister with the Ministry of Finance said; “Many roles which did not even exist until a few years ago are now fast becoming jobs in high demand. However, in order for our professionals to get these jobs, they need to have the right skills…The ITM is an integrated plan that will enable our firms to scale, innovate and increase their productivity, while preparing Singaporeans to take on exciting new jobs such as digital product developers, data modellers and risk advisory professionals."