Google Announces Multiple Initiatives Across Skilling, AI And Sustainability In Singapore

DigitalCFO Newsroom | 24 August 2022

Google laid out its plans to advance its country mission to empower Singaporeans today, for tomorrow.

Google today made several key announcements at its first-ever Google for Singapore event, marking its 15th anniversary here, as well as its Singapore Cloud Region’s 5th anniversary. Graced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr. Lawrence Wong, Google laid out its plans to advance its country mission to empower Singaporeans today, for tomorrow across four main pillars, while strengthening the country’s leading position as a regional and global technology innovation hub.

Investing in Our Home in Asia

Google Singapore started out with 24 employees at its first office on Collyer Quay. Today, Google’s Asia-Pacific headquarters now has 3,000 employees serving Singapore, the region and beyond. Google has also invested in technical infrastructure, including a network of data centres, cloud regions, and subsea cables, connecting Singapore to the world. Google first announced its intention to build a third data centre facility in 2018. Today, this facility is completed and in operation, bringing its long-term investment in Singapore data centres to US$850 million. Together with the company’s two existing data centre facilities in Jurong, the third facility will enhance access to Google services and more. A commissioned report assessed Google’s recurrent investment and operations in its data centres in Singapore to have generated US$216 million in economic activity in 2020. 

Commenting on Singapore’s significance to Google, Scott Beaumont, President, Google Asia Pacificadded, “Singapore is at the centre of the world’s most dynamic region, with digital and tech innovation central to its growth strategy. It was a natural step to make Singapore Google’s Asia Pacific headquarters, invest in the country, and power the rest of Asia-Pacific. Over the past 15 years, we have been deeply conscious of our responsibility to contribute to Singapore’s advancement. The commitments we’re making today, including the completion of our third data centre facility, reflect our confidence in Singapore’s technology leadership for the region and the world. They also anchor all of us at Google more deeply to a community we truly love being part of. We’re ready to build on our progress, pursue new opportunities ahead, and shape a strong, shared future.”

Online Safety for the Vulnerable

Since the pandemic, more children are spending time online, increasing their exposure to online threats. It is more crucial now than ever that families are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to navigate the different forms of cyber risks. To keep young users safe online, Google will be partnering with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Media Literacy Council, in support of the Digital for Life movement, to train 50,000 parents and children on online safety in the next 12 months, first by bringing the Be Internet Awesome (BIA) curriculum to primary schools. 

This will include sharing BIA internet safety resources with educators and bringing the Google Online Safety Park to selected schools including CHIJ Katong and West Grove Primary to provide an interactive learning experience, with the aim of nurturing confident navigators of the online world. By growing a body of online safety advocates, Google hopes even more parents and children will be equipped with online safety know-how.

Speaking on the importance of online safety, Ben King, Country Managing Director, Google Singapore, shared, “Singapore is one of the most highly connected cities in the world. Yet, we are acutely aware that bad actors can threaten the safety of the digital world. At Google, we recognise the responsibility to keep people safe online through our products and tools. We also know that it is crucial to equip Singaporeans with the knowledge and confidence to approach technology safely and securely – starting with the most vulnerable. We hope through initiatives like Google’s Online Safety Park and by working closely with deeply committed partners to build digital literacy within the community, we can build a safer, more inclusive digital future for all Singaporeans.” 

Economic Opportunity for All

Google is also committed to equipping more Singaporeans with the skills for the future to land in-demand roles. Through its Skills Ignition SG (SISG) program launched in 2020 with the Singapore government,more than 5,500 people have learned new skills and earned certification. Many have also secured opportunities with local and global companies — Google included, with 3 in 4 of the previous SISG cohort finding jobs within 6 months of their graduation.

As part of the evolution of SISG, Google shared three key updates to the program: 

  1. Enhanced traineeship program to 60 Singaporeans to meet current industry demands. Selected trainees will undergo a 12-month full-time training program in Digital Marketing or Professional Cloud Architecture, up from the previous duration of nine months. With continuous partnership with IMDA under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative, selected trainees will receive mentorship from Google employees, a more comprehensive development plan, and a higher stipend to match the rising market rates. 
  2. A fifth certificate – Digital Marketing and e-commerce – will be added to Google Career Certificates to provide Singaporeans to help learners acquire new skills outside traditional learning environments. 
  3. Expanded employer consortium to provide SISG graduates direct access to job opportunities. Google previously gathered 16 local companies to form the Employer Consortium to consider recruiting SISG graduates in January.Today, the employer consortium has now more than doubled to 37 companies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has also supported this effort by helping to reach out to a broad range of financial institutions. 

At the same time, the company is stepping up its efforts to help Singapore reinforce its position as a leader in AI innovation. Google Cloud and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) have today announced a partnership to co-create novel AI solutions that will improve how Singaporeans work and live; deepen AI capabilities in public service; and shape AI governance and ethics. Led by SNDGG’s National AI Office, this is its first public-private AI partnership with a global technology company.

AI is becoming an everyday reality, with the potential to empower inclusive finance, accelerate genomic analysis to better understand and treat diseases, and optimise supply chains to reduce their environmental impact. But at the same time, there’s an urgent need for skilled talent with competencies in AI to further develop and implement the technology at scale. By partnering with SNDGG’s National AI Office to cultivate deep AI proficiency in public service and spearheading programs like Skills Ignition SG to help Singaporeans keep pace with the labour market’s evolving demands, Google remains committed to strengthening Singapore’s social compact and ensuring that all can partake in and benefit from the fast-growing digital economy,” said Sherie Ng, Country Director, Singapore and Malaysia, Google Cloud.

A Sustainable Future for Tomorrow

A major challenge for nonprofit organisations in tackling the ongoing climate crisis has been the lack of credible data and evidence to inform where and how to implement programs at the pace and scale required. To address this, Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will provide USD$1 million grant funding (approx. SGD$1.4 million) to Mandai Nature, which was established by Temasek and Mandai Wildlife Group. This is the first sustainability-focused grant through Google.org in Singapore. 

“When tackling the climate crisis, we at Google recognise that our impact can be far greater when we come together with nonprofits, governments and businesses in the shared responsibility to find sustainability solutions. To this point, we are incredibly proud to support Mandai Nature through our philanthropic arm, Google.org, as they continue supporting dedicated nonprofits to develop promising technology-based solutions that will contribute to building a more sustainable future for all.” Ben King, Managing Director, Google Singapore, said. 

With this funding, Mandai Nature will support the Southeast Asia Climate and Nature-based Solutions (SCeNe) Coalition comprising eight globally recognised environmental and conservation non-profit organisations that aims to accelerate investment into climate solutions that benefit nature and people, in Southeast Asia. 

Over the next 1.5 years, the Coalition will use the funding in three areas: 

  1. Develop an open-source web-based mapping tool to identify geographies in Southeast Asia that hold the key to carbon reduction, host rich biodiversity, and are home to local communities. Google employees will also volunteer their time to share their expertise with the Coalition to build the initial stages of the tool. 
  2. Share information from ongoing projects to demonstrate and promote best practice in design, implementation, and monitoring of Nature-based Solutions. These learnings will be published in a report to provide guidance and recommendations to accelerate the implementation of and investment in high-quality nature-based solutions in the region. 
  3. Aims to communicate widely about and raise investment for at least three Nature-based Solutions projects in Southeast Asia that deliver benefits to climate, nature and people.