Singapore to triple AI 'practitioners' to 15,000

Country launches updated National AI Strategy

Singapore to triple AI 'practitioners' to 15,000

Singapore has launched an updated version of its National AI Strategy, with a focus on tripling the workforce of “the backbone of AI”.

The country is looking to triple the count of “AI practitioners” – which include data, machine learning scientists and engineers – to 15,000.

The country is looking to this over the next three to five years, according to a report published on Business Today.

“We will train more locals who can excel in this space,” said Lawrence Wong, deputy prime minister and minister for finance, in his speech at the Singapore Conference on AI for the Global Good on Dec. 4.

 “We will also welcome foreign professionals with the right skillsets to complement our local workforce.”

In Singapore, 98% of HR practitioners are already using AI tools within their HR software and 80% of HR leaders are predicting an increase in AI in the coming years, according to a previous report.

And "nearly four in five (79%) professionals in Singapore believe that AI will be an invisible teammate to help them with their work in the next five years," Pooja Chhabria, career expert and head of editorial at Asia Pacific at LinkedIn, previously said in a statement.

AI creators, users

Aside from focusing on practitioners, Singapore’s strategy also looks to increase two other talent categories.

First is the “creators”, who are the “top-tier talent engaged in novel and cutting-edge AI activities”. 

“We would like to recruit more of such top Creators, to work with Singapore and to work in Singapore,” said Wong. “The numbers involved will not be large. But we believe that these top Creators can have an outsized impact in fostering a culture of experimentation and excellence in AI.”

Singapore will also build up a base of “confident” AI users – both amongst enterprises and workers – who are “equipped to leverage AI for enhanced productivity and for more impactful work”.

To increase the AI workforce numbers, Singapore will invest adult education and training to reskill and upskill workers in AI. 

“We aim to nurture a critical mass of skilled AI talent; and at the same time, ensure that everyone in the workforce is AI-ready,” said Wong.

Singapore’s national strategy on AI is a result of consultations with over 300 experts and organisations.

Wong noted that Singapore has been using AI in different industries. In healthcare, for example, it is used for disease detection and diagnosis. In finance, it is used for fraud detection and risk management amongst other things.

“In the public service of Singapore, we have embraced AI,” said Wong. “We use large learning models to help our officers reply to public queries. It has been very helpful for them, because with a click of a button you get a draft prepared for you, and most of the work is already done.”

Last month, the OCBC Bank in Singapore introduced a generative AI chatbot that can be used by its 30,000 employees from across 19 countries.

Rules around AI

Singapore is also looking to make regulatory adjustments to encourage AI experimentation and innovation, said Wong.

“We will create regulatory sandboxes for such innovation to flourish here in Singapore and we will put in place the necessary guard rails so that innovation and experimentation does not cause systemic risks. 

“As AI progresses and as the rate of scientific progress increases, we will continue to adapt and evolve our rules. The key in all this is to be agile and nimble, and to keep on updating our strategies and our governance frameworks as circumstances change.”

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