Why managed services and support is critical to address Singapore's growing IT talent shortage

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As shifting IT paradigms revolutionise the way we work in 2021 and beyond, ensuring you have access to the right digital skills is becoming paramount to business success.

A recent report suggested that Singapore’s reputation as a regional technology hub is being threatened by a widening tech skills gap, with a top-ranking central bank authority calling for more foreign immigration to address the jobs crunch.

Despite 2,800 undergraduates enrolling in ICT courses in Singapore last year, and another 4,500 graduating from polytechnics and technical education, the Monetary Authority of Singapore indicates there still aren’t enough graduates to fill demand.

The country recognised this challenge in its 2021 budget, outlining plans to hire more than 200,000 locals and provide up to 35,000 training programs focused on digital skills and digital transformation enablement. It says this will be key for helping firms develop internal talent and resources to accelerate their offline-to-online transformation.

The rapid evolution of technology also makes it difficult for in-house teams to ensure they’re continually educated and up to date with the latest developments and evolving technology, with constant upskilling becoming a critical part of enterprise IT strategies.

While developing internal resources will undoubtedly be important in the future, organisations must also look externally to bolster their skills availability.

As the market becomes increasingly competitive, managed IT services providers offer critical expertise to support strategic digital transformation initiatives, ensuring their customer’s IT strategies are at the cutting edge and highly scalable.

This is the last of four trends we’re discussing as part of this article series, in partnership with = AustCham Singapore.

These pieces have explored key issues across cloud, edge, data centres, and security, with best practice advice from seasoned Telstra technical leaders. Underpinning all these topics is skills availability and development through managed services, which will help create a unified IT strategy that’s suited to business objectives.

How managed services narrow the gap

The skills gap is impacting a variety of areas and industries, including retail, manufacturing, and financial services. Across these, one major area of concern is around cloud-based digital transformation.

As organisations are modernising their technology stacks, a wider range of different skillsets are required to carry out these transformations and fully execute effective digital strategies.

“The increasing focus on digital transformation will no doubt drive talent demand and shape the local workforce in 2021,” said Jaya Dass, managing director for recruiting firm Randstad Malaysia and Singapore. “There will be higher demand for technologists and digitally adept professionals skilled across all functions and industries.”

Without a sufficient pool of talent in Singapore, organisations can find a lot of value in bringing on managed services providers to bolster their security capabilities, network performance, and modern workplace practices.

MSPs also provide a huge boost when it comes to migrating applications to cloud, and the management of complicated cloud architecture. According to Gartner, "MSPs bring skills, experience, process maturity, and established toolsets to accelerate and improve public cloud results for clients."

This skills boost will be vital as organisations look to scale their public, hybrid, and multi-cloud strategies, especially as hybrid working persists through 2021.

Managed service providers help craft tactical, technical, and strategic initiatives and provide in-depth expertise on how to manage cloud environments, from migrating workloads to managing multi-cloud infrastructure.

These environments can be highly complex and constantly evolving, meaning upskilling is a necessity. This is baked into the business model for MSPs, as they proactively and periodically upskill and consult their customers on how new technology could fit their IT strategies.

MSPs can also help alleviate the worsening shortage of cyber security professionals, which Gartner says has been exasperated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolstering internal security teams with a managed services capability will be crucial for securing the ‘new perimeter’, which is more complex and vulnerable than ever.

Choosing the best partner

Not all managed services partners are the same and it’s important to evaluate how they’re going to support the specific needs of your organisation.

Partners should have a demonstrable capability beyond just where organisations need a talent boost, as managing IT environments requires comprehensive expertise across a range of technology solutions and infrastructure.

This includes capability across cloud connectivity, hybrid-multi-cloud security management, and best-in-class network integration to tie your entire environment together. This is especially crucial as organisations move towards complex Platform-as-a-Service (PAAS) solutions, which will require additional support and different skillsets.

They should also be vendor-agnostic, providing secure access to a range of market-leading solutions and services, along with tools that enable you to increase the flexibility of your operations.

This doesn’t mean sacrificing full control or visibility over your environment, as MSPs must provide support while still giving businesses priority access to their own infrastructure. This includes issuing constant, comprehensive reports and access to portals that provide insight into real-time performance metrics.

Telstra Purple is a market leader in consulting, professional and managed services and can provide access to more than 2,200 certified experts covering security, cloud, collaboration, mobility, software and mobile development, user experience design, data, and AI.

This is all underpinned by Telstra’s world-class network infrastructure and expertise, with Asia Pacific’s leading subsea cable network.

Telstra Purple will work alongside your organisations to bolster your internal skills and ultimately support your most pressing business objectives, offering critical advantages in a period of prolonged uncertainty.

“Post-pandemic, we're working out how we’ll continue to work — remotely and collaboratively, mediated by technology. Commerce is now done globally, in this hybrid way,” Telstra Purple Executive Chris Smith said in a recent article.

“There’s a nexus between engaging workplaces, employee satisfaction and business growth and profitability, so now is a great time to co-create workplaces with our customers to spur the next step in their evolution.”


This article is the last of a 5-part series, first appearing on the Australian Chamber of Singapore’s weekly newsletter in August 2021.

Article 1 - Four key digital transformation trends have evolved

Article 2 - Why the private data centre is persisting in 2021

Article 3 - Cyber business risk is the next frontier

Article 4 - Edge vs Cloud? It’s the wrong question for best-practice ICT strategy

Article 5 - Managed services are pivotal for alleviating the skills gap