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Banks, IHLs to come together to groom AI-ready talent for financial industry

Dr Qasim Nasar-Ullah, director of Arabesque Asset Management Singapore, described the programme as a “win-win for everyone”. He told the Straits Times that finding the right talent is high on the firm’s list of priorities, and being part of the programme can help it do so.

He said: “We are always on the hunt for new candidates, and it is quite a restricted market... anything that can be done to promote candidates to look in the area would be very helpful.

“The onus really falls on the employers to double down on efforts to (seek out talent), so any support that we can get really makes a big impact for us.”

Mr Anthony Chew, chief core skills officer at NTUC LearningHub, said that stakeholders sometimes work in silos, and a consortium will allow for the various groups to work closely together and generate targeted programmes in a timely way.

He said: “Technology moves so fast – what you need tomorrow is going to be different from what you need today. So if we have that trust, (and a platform) for the financial institutions to articulate the specific skills and specific competency for a job role... we can put all this together in a very timely way. Partner the best-in-class content providers and make this affordable to the funding agencies.”

As demand for artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics continues to grow, especially with the advent of intelligent chatbots like ChatGPT, the need for talent in the area has become a concern for many industries both here and across the globe.

To address the financial sector’s artificial intelligence and data analytics (Aida) talent shortage, Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, announced the launch of the Aida Talent Development Programme on Monday at a seminar hosted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), in collaboration with Elevandi, a non-profit organisation set up by MAS to foster connections in the FinTech sector.

Under the programme, the MAS will work closely with financial institutions, training providers, as well as Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) to increase the supply of Aida talent.

Along with the launch of the talent development programme, the Aida Consortium members also signed a memorandum of understanding today, to mark their commitment to work towards building AI capabilities in Singapore’s financial sector through increasing the supply of talent.

To facilitate collaboration, the Aida talent consortium will comprise various relevant organisations from both the education and training sector, as well as the financial sector.

The consortium members will work closely with each other to co-curate and develop AI talent programmes that have a strong financial sector application.

These organisations include research institutes, such as AI Singapore, IHLs, including the National University of Singapore, and training providers, such as NTUC Learning Hub.

From the financial sector, members include investment management firm Arabesque Asset Management Singapore and major local banks, such as OCBC.

The consortium will facilitate the matching of financial institutions to the relevant training and education institutions, which are able to then curate and design programmes to meet the needs of the industry.

It will also be designing a skills progression pathway that will serve as a roadmap for the roles and skills the sector requires.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Tan said that AI is now used across many industries in Singapore, and has a wide range of uses and applications.

He added that there is an acute shortage of talent now, stressing that the development of AI talent is a priority.

Said Mr Tan: “For the talent development program to succeed, the Government and industry need to work closely together to understand the specific needs of the sector, in order to introduce targeted approaches to close the current gaps.

“I believe that by working together – our ecosystem partners, stakeholders in financial sector, government, private sector, as well as training institutes and IHLs – we can create a vibrant ecosystem for AI talent, innovation, experimentation, and create many good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans.” 

Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech Officer at MAS, said, “Supporting Aida adoption is one of our key strategies to help financial institutions evolve and adopt game-changing AI technology. However, the shortage in talent limits the industry’s potential for growth.

“With the Aida Talent Development Programme, we aim to ignite Aida adoption across the industry and equip the local workforce with in-demand technical skills”.