The Digital Divide in Singapore

Topics: Internet, White-collar worker, Internet access Pages: 13 (3305 words) Published: June 18, 2013

NM1101E: Communications, New Media and Society


Prepared by

Tutor: Catherine Candano
Tutorial Group: W13 (Friday 8am-9am)
Date of Submission: 16 February 2011

This report consists of 1322 words, excluding the cover page, headings, tables, figures and references.

Literature Review

In ‘Digital Divide in Singapore –Beyond Ubiquitous Internet Access’ (Appendix A, 2002), the digital have-nots comprise of the elderly, the disabled, certain ethnic groups and the less affluent people. Three main causes of this disparity are infrastructure, literacy and content. Policies, funding and campaigns, with the importance of educating the economic value of digitally empowering the have-nots are efforts to bridge the divide and the position of social entrepreneurship in funding such efforts.

In a more recent ‘Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households and Individuals for 2008’ (Appendix B, 2008), it was reported that a significant digital divide was characterised by wealth, old age and literacy. General trends include the disparity in internet infrastructure available in private and public housing with only 72% of public housing owners having the appropriate internet infrastructure as opposed to 91% of private housing owners (Infocomm Usage Survey, 2008, p.13). The survey also reconciles with Pant’s earlier belief that greater awareness is needed with regards to the economic value of digital empowerment as seen in how 23% of the respondents lacked the skills for ICTs and a staggering 50% does not see the need to use ICTs (Infocomm Usage Survey, 2008, p. 13). This trend is also noted in terms of portable devices such as laptops and mobile phones (Infocomm Usage Survey, 2008, p. 35). The survey also noted the use of the Internet fundamentally as a communication tool as agreed by 70% of the general respondents, followed closely by its function as a source of information (42%) and leisure (39%) (Infocomm Usage Survey, 2008, p. 29).

Purpose of Study
Digital divide refers to the disparity between segments of society who utilise Information

and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the have-nots (Atul Pant, 2002, p.2).  In contemporary Singaporean society where digital skills are necessary for high productivity, there is growing awareness to identify the digital divide in relation to the nature of one’s job. Our group has chosen to examine the dynamic interaction of the causes of this divide-- age, disability, wealth and literacy, in a lesser-known disparity between blue-collar and white-collar workers in Singapore’s labour force. We are identifying semi-skilled or unskilled blue-collar workers, whose jobs entail manual labour (BusinessDictionary, 1996). The white-collar workers refer to the professionals and skilled workers whose jobs are often specialised and of a managerial nature. Given that 60% of jobs in the American employment market require knowledge of ICTs (United States of America Congressional Report, 1998), we will examine their accessibility to ICTs and the relationship between one’s job and his usage of ICTs. Thus, bridging this divide by cultivating a competitive labour force and high employability in Singapore would be an important measure to sustain her economic growth, especially so in the face of an influx of competitive foreign talents and an ageing population.

From here, our group has formulated two research questions to explore in this report. 1. What are the underlying causes of the digital divide between the blue-collar and white-collar workers in Singapore? 2. How do we bridge this form of digital divide?

Survey Methodology
Our group had collected data from 13 blue-collar workers and 13 white-collar workers in Singapore’s labour force, using an offline...

References: Table A1.4.1: Main Reason for Not Having Access to a Computer at Home, 2004 – 2008
Table A2.2.1: Main Reason for Not Having Internet Access at Home, 2004 - 2008
Table A2.3.1: Main Reason for Not Subscribing to Broadband Access Service, 2006 - 2008
Table B2.2.1: Main Reason for Not Using the Internet by Age Group4, 2008
| | |35-49 yrs |50-59 yrs |60 yrs |All residents |
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