Singapore’s Professional Services Industry Transformation
Map (ITM ) was launched
today, charting a roadmap to develop the industry to become a global market leader
in high-value, specialist services, driven by innovation and partnerships, over
a five- to ten-year horizon.
Professional Services firms in sectors such as Architecture
and Engineering Services, Consulting, Accounting, Legal and Advertising.
Professional Services, which employed more than 230,000 people, made up 6.5% of
Singapore’s GDP and contributed around $25 billion in value-add in 2016.
Through the ITM, the sector is projected to post an average
growth rate of 4.6% from 2015 to reach a value-add of S$31 billion by 2020 and
generate 5,500 new Professional, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET)
jobs every year during the same period.
The ITM is an inter-agency effort led by the Economic
Development Board (EDB), alongside agencies including Building Construction
Authority (BCA), IE Singapore, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA),
Ministry of Law, Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC), SPRING Singapore,
SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), as well as industry partners, trade
associations and professional bodies.
Key initiatives in the ITM aim to drive innovation in the
industry and to equip Singapore’s workforce with specialised skillsets in
high-growth areas such as data science, analytics and artificial intelligence.
Similar to the other sectoral ITMs, partnerships are viewed as
critical to the growth and transformation of the services industry and hence, the
Government will work closely with key partners such as industry associations
and professional bodies, as well as the unions.
Launching the ITM at the opening of Dentsu Aegis Network’s
Asia Pacific Headquarters in Singapore, Ms. Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of
State, Ministry of Law & Ministry of Finance and Co-Chair for the Future
Economy Council (FEC) Modern Services Sub-Committee, said, “The Professional
Services sector is a growing industry with tremendous potential for job
creation. Singapore has the right conditions for companies to innovate
world-class business solutions and forge cross-disciplinary partnerships. 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
Companies in advertising, consulting and engineering services
are looking to build key digital capabilities in data science, analytics and
artificial intelligence. There are also significant opportunities for strategy
and operations consulting as clients embark on digital transformation projects.
In addition, the steady growth of engineering and infrastructure projects, and
financial services is expected to increase demand for specialised services such
as project management, risk management, business valuation and dispute
To harness opportunities in high-growth areas, continuous building
of innovation capabilities by firms and individuals is essential. Innovation in
Professional Services involves delivering services and solutions through
different business models to be more effective and cost-efficient, and continual
investment into technology. This is accelerating in Singapore.
For example, home-grown accounting firm Precursor Group has
diversified from traditional audit services to also offering HR and analytics
services, through its proprietary cloud-based services delivery platform. This
has allowed them to scale their offerings to over 500 local and multinational
clients with just 60 staff.
WongPartnership, a leading full service Singapore law
practice, adopted AI tool, Luminance, to enhance its due diligence processes
for Merger & Acquisition transactions. The firm is harnessing the
predictive power of AI to discern patterns and detect anomalies across large
volumes of contracts and unstructured data.
Innovation is also about continuously building
differentiated competencies. In this regard, global firms have been
establishing leading Centres of Excellence (COEs) in Singapore, to serve global
and regional markets. Recent examples include Dentsu Aegis Network’s Global
Data Innovation Centre, McKinsey’s Digital Capability Centre, Deloitte’s Future
of Work COE, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Singapore Cyber Security Solutions Center
and Mott MacDonald’s Advanced Building Information Modelling Technologies COE.
The Government will also play an active role in facilitating
collaborations through convening innovation platforms, bringing together
companies, start-ups and research institutes to work on common challenges and
Such innovation platforms include setting up living labs
where companies can collaborate to test-bed and commercialise solutions in a
live environment. An example is the HDB’s Smart Urban Habitat Masterplan (SUHMP)
which focuses on the usage of digital technologies to improve liveability in
public housing. The implementation of SUHMP has created opportunities for NCS, Arup,
AECOM and other engineering consultants to identify and recommend smart
initiatives for deployment.
Another innovation platform that will be created is a
This will see leading firms such as Google, Grab and Adobe
collaborating to help businesses with smarter data use to drive marketing
innovation. According to the press release, more details will be made available
in the coming weeks.
The high-growth areas in Professional Services have spawned
many new jobs which did not exist until the last few years. Existing
professionals and new entrants can expect comprehensive support from the ITM.
As part of the ITM, the Government will work with firms and
industry players to re-design jobs, and actively upskill and reskill their
workforce for high-growth areas.
Under the Adapt and Grow initiative, Workforce Singapore
(WSG) has launched more than 10 Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs)
relevant to Professional Services. PMETs are trained to take on roles ranging from
global infrastructure projects, digital advertising to HR management.
Four new PCPs for Programmatic Advertising, Internal Audit,
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) and Building Information Modelling
are under development.
Skills Frameworks and related accreditations will be
developed for relevant sub-sectors to support professionals in better
understanding the range of career pathways, skills requirements and available
training programmes. This follows the Skills Framework for Accountancy launched
in October 2017, which identified emerging skillsets such as data analytics,
valuation research and analysis. The skillsets were mapped to 6 career tracks
and 25 job roles.
In addition, Institutes of Higher Learning are strengthening
work-learn collaborations with firms in Professional Services to ensure greater
industry relevance of training programmes. SkillsFuture Earn and Learn
Programmes (ELPs) have
been launched for Accountancy, Visual Communications, UX Design and Management,
and Branding and Digital Marketing. To-date, SSG has enrolled over 130 ELP
participants into companies such as PwC, Deloitte and BBDO. Future ELPs under
development include more specialisations such as UX and Accountancy.
Beyond the ELPs, advertising agencies such as DDB are also
working with Institutes of Higher Learning to groom next-generation talent.
DDB’s COE in Temasek Polytechnic, “Equator”,
trains 20 students per semester across faculties through academic programmes
and hands-on experience with client projects, working together with DDB’s
senior leadership team.
internationalisation and productivity enhancement
Initiatives will be put in place to enhance Singapore’s
global market position and grow exports of services to regional and global
markets. An example is the Tech
Start for Law programme to help Singapore law firms adopt productivity
SPRING Singapore (SPRING) and IE Singapore , together with the rest of the Government,
will strengthen efforts to work with businesses with the ambition and ability
to scale. This aims to grow more firms such as Allen & Gledhill, Rajah
& Tann, TSLA, Surbana Jurong and Meinhardt, which have set up business
operations covering ASEAN, China, the Middle East and Africa.
In addition, more market- and sector-specific lead
generation and profiling platforms will be developed, such as the annual
Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable to bring together infrastructure
players in the region to discuss project opportunities. SPRING and IE Singapore
will continue to work with industry players to promote overseas business
opportunities for home-grown firms via overseas business missions and events.
 Roadmaps are
being developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and
deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations
and chambers. The ITMs are grouped into 6 broad cluster: Manufacturing, Built
environment, Trade & connectivity, Essential Domestic Services, Modern
services and Lifestyle. Most of the ITMs have been released.
 SPRING Singapore
and IE Singapore are going merge
in 2018 to form a new government agency named Enterprise Singapore.