Singapore — “Given the general unhappiness among locals over the situation of PMET employment currently, they must be convinced that they will not be sidelined.” This is the concern expressed by Progress Singapore Party official Francis Yuen in an article on the party website on Sunday (Nov 22) on the new Tech.Pass to bring in the top tier of tech talent.

The pass was announced on Nov 12. It will be administered by the Economic Development Board, supported by the Ministry of Manpower.

Earlier last week, at the virtual Singapore Tech Forum on Nov 17, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said that the country needed more tech talent and that the new Tech.Pass was aimed at bringing “highly accomplished” individuals in that field into the country.

He said the pass was targeted at “the movers and shakers of the tech world”, describing these as individuals who usually played different roles at once — founder, investor, employee, consultant and academic — and could contribute to multiple parts of the ecosystem with their capital, networks and knowledge.

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In his article, Mr Yuen, the party’s assistant secretary-general, said: “Since the basis of this initiative is to attract genuine talents that we lack, the obvious question beckons, ‘How do we ensure that we also groom our own at the same time?’”

Mr Yuen suggested that Singapore “explore bold ideas”.

He said: “If the scheme aims to encourage foreign tech talents to invest in start-ups, why not take a step further to encourage such talents with entrepreneurial and tech skills to invest in our local companies to help them upgrade and move up and branch out to the region?”

Calling them “tech entrepartners” for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Mr Yuen added that Temasek or other government-sponsored investment funds could perhaps play a role in co-investing with these foreign “tech entrepartners”.

“This will give a big boost to promising companies amongst our SMEs. It can make a significant impact in nurturing our SMEs as the backbone to our economy,” he said.

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“In any case, there is no question that we must double up our efforts to nurture our own talents and build our own core as they will be our long-term pillars of the new normal,” he added. /TISG