Microsoft Singapore tells us why non-techies can work in the tech industry

Microsoft Singapore’s Chief Technology Officer shares some tips with us.

| Julia Yeo | Sponsored | June 04, 2021, 07:56 PM

With the unstoppable rise of digitalisation in the world, the tech industry has easily become one of the most popular to work in today.

Tech has become a deeply integral part of our lives, such that our digital presence has become essential.

From ordering meals using an app, shopping online, to commuting using ride-hailing services – these everyday activities are powered by technology. These advancements have reshaped jobs and how businesses operate.

Going digital and leveraging artificial intelligence, data and the cloud is crucial for businesses across all sectors, and employees and jobseekers are encouraged to pick up new digital skills as the economy moves towards a digital one.

Adoption of tech accelerated by Covid-19

Digitalisation has become more important than ever with the onset of Covid-19 last year.

A study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific found that in 2020, 73 per cent of organisations in Singapore accelerated the pace of digitalisation in response to the pandemic, from launching products online, introducing digital payments, to embracing e-commerce and automation of many business processes.

The pandemic has marked a turning point in how businesses leverage new technologies to transform their processes, operations, and services to deliver better value to their customers.

Beyond this, the push towards digitalisation has also driven Singapore’s economic recovery.

The heightened need for digital services has led to a parallel increase in demand for tech-related roles, where digital skills have become crucial to agility and value creation.

As a booming sector that shows no signs of slowing down, the tech industry is a pretty exciting space to be in right now.

However, those outside the industry or those without the relevant qualifications may find it daunting to make the switch to tech-related roles or roles within the tech industry.

To get a better understanding of how to jumpstart your digital career, we spoke to Richard Koh, the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Singapore.

Koh addressed some of the misconceptions we may have about the tech industry and shared some tips on how to get started with #GetReadySG, an initiative that hopes to bridge the gap between skilling and employability for Singaporeans who want to start a digital career.

Here’s what he had to share with us:

I scored a C6 for math and science during my O-levels -- does this mean I won’t be able to do well in a tech job?

My grades back then were, let’s just say, a constant worry for my parents. Jokes aside, grades in school are never the determinant of doing well in a tech job or any career for that matter. Not at all!

I cannot emphasise enough that one should always think and frame one’s career in technology as a journey of change and new experiences – comprising different areas of technologies, roles, and organizations.

What will serve you in good stead is having a good growth mindset with a learn-it-all attitude.

While technical skills are important, other factors – such as personality, a growth mindset and attitude, and various soft skills – are also necessary ingredients for success in a tech role.

For example, roles like DevOps Engineers, Cloud Architects, Data Scientists – all require traits such as creativity, teamwork, and a passion for problem-solving.

What is important is having the growth mindset to learn new skills and new or different perspectives. This means staying up-to-date on technical knowledge, adapting to what the industry and digital economy needs, and even creating the next tech product blockbuster – these are all key ingredients that will set you up for success.

The Microsoft #GetReadySG programme, launched in partnership with Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Digital Industry Singapore (DISG), global and non-profit organisation, Generation is designed to equip young professionals and mid-career Singaporeans with industry-relevant tech skills that will support them in securing potential job placements in the tech industry.

Find out which tech-related role would suit you best by taking this quiz here.

I studied arts and social sciences in polytechnic/university - does this mean it’s impossible for me to land a job in tech, unless I go back to school?

Not necessarily.

The tech industry is constantly evolving, and new skills are always in demand. Increasingly, technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud are in high demand by innovative organizations, and a good grounding in the humanities subjects like social studies, philosophy or political science is crucial in helping organizations be thoughtful about deploying AI in their products and services and in their business operations.

Technology is a powerful enabler, but to ensure it is used in an ethical way, we must move beyond the application of our cognitive intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ) to also apply moral intelligence (MQ) in these disruptive times to build the right foundations for the responsible use of technology.

The good news is that compared to ten years ago, it is much easier now to acquire industry-relevant digital skills with the help of various skilling initiatives in Singapore – such as #GetReadySG.

If you’re looking to enter or switch careers to join the tech industry, the SG United Mid-Career Pathways Program — Company Training (SGUP-CT) within #GetReadySG is a great option.

It is a SkillsFuture programme targeted at young professionals and mid-career job seekers looking to gain in-demand digital skills and chart their careers in technology.

The curriculum is designed for those with no prior experience in the tech industry and integrates mindsets and behavioural skills alongside core technical skills to help learners successfully transition into their new roles.

At the end of the program, Microsoft and Generation will assist eligible candidates to facilitate job placement opportunities with Microsoft’s partner companies.

The tech industry seems to be huge. What types of tech jobs are in demand, and what kinds of skills are required?

According to data and insights from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, the most in-demand job role in Singapore is that of a Software Engineer. Other industry-relevant roles in the tech sector include Cloud Support, Full Stack Developer, Data Engineer/Analyst and DevOps.

In terms of skills required to support these roles, the Economic Graph data shows that Project Management, Java, JavaScript and Cloud Computing are among the top in-demand skills within the Software & IT Services industry – skills which learners can acquire through #GetReadySG’s training curriculum.

According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Singapore is the second most automated country in the world, after South Korea. We see an emerging trend of automation amid the pandemic, with growing demand for deep tech and skilled professionals in the AI industry.

Skills like Java and JavaScript are especially relevant for those looking to transition into this field.

Strong knowledge and competencies on hyperscale computing is crucial in roles that involve modernizing legacy software applications, with AI, IoT and cloud-based data analytics.

As we experience increased digital adoption, modernizing legacy cybersecurity approaches with a Zero Trust model that ensures a healthy and protected environment, has also become a strategic priority among organizations. This also explains the high demand in cybersecurity tech jobs in the industry.

I’m interested in working in the tech industry, but I don’t think I want to be a software engineer or developer. What other roles are there?

Aside from the roles that are more technical in nature, LinkedIn’s Economic Graph shows that other roles like Project Manager, Business Analyst, Product Manager, Business Development Manager, Sales Director and Account Manager are among the top eight trending jobs in the Software and IT Services industry in Singapore.*

*Based on the percentage of recent hires with these job titles for the 3 months ending February 2021

What should I do to get there?

Microsoft’s #GetReadySG programme, which aims to close the gap between skilling and employability is a unique initiative that is designed to help participants gain new skills and increase their employability for tech and tech-enabled roles.

#GetReadySG’s curriculum is modelled based on how high-performers function in the industry today and integrates core mindsets needed to thrive in a fast-paced work environment.

The programme is also designed using data from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph to ensure that learners are trained in relevant, in-demand tech skills based on industry needs.

In terms of hard skills, #GetReadySG will equip you with industry-recognised certified tech skills through learning resources from Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning.

Beyond the classroom, you will also have the chance to work with a selection of Microsoft partner and customer companies for apprenticeships, to apply the skills learned from training modules and gain additional skillsets via on-the-job training.

From a soft skills perspective, you will receive mentorship and career coaching from LinkedIn, Generation and Microsoft, ensuring that you are primed for employment and well-placed to assimilate into the workplace and navigate challenges.

Finally, at the end of the programme, you will receive support from Microsoft and Generation to facilitate job placement opportunities within Microsoft’s customer and partner companies, who are partners of the initiative.

The aim is to help you achieve a successful, holistic transition into the tech industry from start to end. To learn more about #GetReadySG, visit our microsite here.

Apart from #GetReadySG, you can also go for online courses on Microsoft Learn – on topics like digital transformation, in-demand job capabilities and critical soft skills that will be available for free till 31 December.

What advice can you give to a non-techie, who’s thinking about switching industries (to a tech job)?

Beyond the tech skills acquired, it is also important for individuals to adopt a growth mindset and be personally responsible for their learning and career trajectory to ensure a successful transition into the tech sector.

Other traits that are key to a smooth transition would be persistence – especially useful whenever you are learning something new.

With the support of #GetReadySG’s instructors, your peers in the programme and your mentors, you will be guided in your journey of navigating a new industry and role.

I would also encourage those who have successfully made the transition to form communities, share their success stories, provide support, and help others who are considering a switch to the tech industry.

Be that mentor you needed at the start of your journey, for someone else. This is a collective, cultural shift we are experiencing, and we should help one another find a place to thrive in the tech-enabled future.

To find out more about Microsoft Singapore’s #GetReadySG skills initiative programme, click here.

This sponsored article by Microsoft Singapore has helped this writer understand better how to work her way towards tech-enabled roles in her career.

Top image via Microsoft Singapore