There was something for everyone in the recent Committee of Supply (COS) debate held on 3 March 2020, which unveiled a slew of initiatives to help Singaporeans of all walks of life go digital.
As digitalisation promises to radically change the way we live, work and play, more must be done to ensure that everyone can benefit from these innovative technologies. With this in mind, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) revealed various programmes to help individuals and businesses expand their digital possibilities at the COS.
Here’s a quick look at some of these initiatives.
1. Level up throughout your career with TeSA
As advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics become more sophisticated, their effect on the workplace is multiplying. Many kinds of work, from manual tasks to analytical activities, are likely to be automated. Facing this new reality, mid-career workers can continue to stay relevant in the digital future by picking up new skills.
The TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Mid-Career Advance programme helps companies hire and train mid-career professionals for tech-related jobs, creating a brand-new skillset for these workers on top of their existing areas of experience. The programme is open to people aged 40 and above who are keen on entering the tech sector. It offers on-the-job-training, mentorship and in some cases, overseas attachments.
Businesses are also responding to digital disruption by transforming their organisations. With the TeSa Mid-Career Advance programme, businesses can benefit from a wider talent pool of reskilled local manpower.
Participating companies will receive subsidies in the form of training fees, living expense allowances, monthly salaries, and even airfare costs for overseas attachments.
2. Empower SMEs to grow digital and go global
The digital age allows SMEs to transcend borders and scale up operations, and the Grow Digital initiative aims to provide greater access to business opportunities in overseas markets.
Expected to launch in Q2 2020, the initiative will help SMEs to participate in Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business cross-border e-commerce platforms that can help to grow their customer base beyond Singapore.
Without the need for physical stores abroad, SMEs can benefit from smart matching capabilities to identify new clients, ready financing, extensive network coverage, seamless connection with local logistics firms for last-mile delivery through the platforms.
3. Easy deliveries within reach
With the convenience and variety offered by e-commerce brands, more and more consumers are shopping online than ever before. But while choosing a nice item online may be a no-brainer, actually getting the item is sometimes easier said than done. Due to our hectic schedules, it’s not always easy to be home when needed, and sometimes deliveries are missed.
Luckily, with the Nationwide Parcel Locker Network, missed deliveries will soon be a thing of the past. By progressively rolling out 1,000 parcel locker stations in HDB estates, MRT stations and community clubs across Singapore, the programme aims to ensure at least one parcel locker station within a five-minute-walk from every HDB block by the end of 2022.
The network will be open to all e-commerce and logistics service providers and serves as a useful alternative to doorstop deliveries while complementing current collection points offered by private locker operators.
4. Spot the spoof calls!
With all the benefits of digitalisation, a digital society must also be vigilant and discerning. Over S$21 million was reported to have been lost to impersonation scams last year, a common crime made possible by spoof calls.
To better protect the public from such malicious scams, the IMDA has been working with the Singapore Public Force (SPF) and telecommunications providers to introduce new measures to combat spoof calls. For instance, by 15 April of this year, IMDA will require telcos to display the ‘+’ prefix for all overseas numbers. Domestic calls will not display the prefix, providing users with a convenient way to screen any unexpected international calls that are likely to be harmful.
In addition, telcos are also blocking numbers that resemble commonly spoofed numbers such as SPF and emergency hotlines–assuring much-needed peace and quiet for Singapore’s mobile phone users.
5. Digital accessibility for all
In helping all Singaporeans achieve more meaningful connectivity, participation and engagement, we must focus on digital inclusion for all. To fully integrate into an increasingly digital society, people from all walks of life should have equal opportunities to use technology. Digital connectivity ensures access not only to basic services, but to all the benefits that technologies bring.
The Home Access programme (HA 3.0) (573.85KB) is the latest update to the programme that was first launched in 2014 to provide subsidised internet access to low-income families. It aims to empower all citizens with greater digital connectivity to ensure no one is left behind.
A collaboration between IMDA, M1, MyRepublic Ltd and NetLink Trust, the programme offers eligible households with two years of subsidised internet access, and an increase in minimum broadband speed from 300Mbps to 500Mbps at no extra cost. Families who require a faster internet speed can also choose to sign up for a 1 Gpbs broadband plan. In addition, families can opt for a broadband and smartphone bundle or a broadband and tablet bundle under the enhanced scheme, to cater to their lifestyle and specific needs.
All in all, HA 3.0 ensures that Singaporeans across the board are well-positioned and well-prepared to welcome the digital future. Through these initiatives, IMDA hopes to create a strong and secure digital economy with a place for everyone.
By Nigel Low