- With COVID-19 accelerating the need to digitise and innovate, companies across many industries want to add to their teams but they are faced with the technology talent gap
- Singaporeans with the right experience will benefit from new incoming rules to ensure they are considered fairly for job vacancies.
- Hiring managers should look to fill the tech talent gap via internal and external initiatives, including: (i) broadening the internal pool via technical training; (ii) grooming junior talent; (iii) being more flexible in terms of the skills desired for specific roles; (iv) being open to older and mature candidates; (v) being open to candidates who are willing to self-learn and adapt; and (vi) engaging recruiters with the required experience and network in the Singapore market.
A surge in technology investment
One of the positive upshots from COVID-19 has been the companies’ focus to drive digitalisation and fostering innovation in line with shifts in business and consumer behaviour.
The rewards are evident with the share price performance of tech companies being a clear winner year-to-date.
The general drive towards becoming more digital is creating demand for technology specialists in multiple roles, including:
- Software engineering
- Data analytics/artificial intelligence
- Cyber security
- Cloud computing
In Singapore, there is a notable surge in hiring by financial services firms. For example, DBS, OCBC and Citi all look to be bulking up their tech teams significantly with software engineers and data scientists.
Trends such as virtual banking will also lead to a flurry of hires; the digital banking licences issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore are expected to lead to the creation of new positions, especially senior ones, preferably filled by individuals who have accumulated industry experience.
However, many financial services firms with a digitalisation agenda are facing a growing challenge when investing in their technology teams: finding enough talent with the required technical skills to fill available positions.
Keeping Singaporean talent at the core
With this in mind, the opportunities for technology professionals look especially bright in Singapore. A government-led focus on further developing digital capabilities, for instance, is encouraging traditional organisations to strengthen their technology capabilities.
Coupled with this, Singaporeans with suitable skills will further benefit from new rules to ensure employment agencies that recruit candidates on behalf of employers consider Singaporeans fairly. As of October 1, 2020, the 3,900 licensed agencies – which fill about three in every 10 job vacancies – will need to fulfil this and other new conditions in order to be licensed by the Ministry of Manpower.
There is also little doubt that demand for technology talent will remain strong in Singapore. In late June 2020, for example, Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, said the shortage of technology professionals should ensure well-paying jobs are available for Singaporeans in the info-communications space over the next three years.
Yet, the number of locals with the most sought-after skillsets remains relatively limited compared with how many roles need to be filled.
For example, the infocomm space currently employs around 200,000 professionals in Singapore and expectations are that it will need another 60,000 over the next three years. But the local education system is only producing around 2,800 infocomm graduates each year.
6 ways hiring managers can bridge the technology talent gap
Such market trends point to a stark reality for hiring managers: accelerating a digital offering is easier said than done.
With demand for technology talent increasingly outpacing supply, businesses are grappling with how to find talent with the required technical skills and experiences to spearhead their technology ambitions.
Forward-thinking hiring managers can bridge the gap in several ways, via a mix of both internal and external measures:
- Broadening the internal talent pool via specific technical training, including giving opportunities to existing employees who might want to move into the technology team
- Grooming junior technology talent for more senior positions
- Expanding the technical requirements of a particular role and being a bit more flexible, rather than becoming too fixated on specific technologies – this might include re-scoping functional aspects of a role to capture candidates from other industries
- Being open to older and mature candidates, especially those individuals who were previously in senior roles but who are willing to take a step back to become more hands-on
- Prioritising candidates who broaden their knowledge and skills via self-learning to make themselves more relevant to new roles and keep pace with market trends
- Engaging with recruitment consultancies that have an established operating history and experience in the Singapore market – enabling vacancies to be filled faster with the right talent.
Identifying the right mindset
Despite the technology hiring landscape being ‘a candidates’ market’ for the time being, hiring managers should also ensure they continue to be discerning.
This means identifying talent who can showcase their capabilities in certain areas, including:
- A willingness to train and reskill – especially given government efforts in Singapore to encourage mid-career switches, including subsidies for locals who take up temporary assignments, attachments and traineeships
- Strong stakeholder management capabilities
- Good communication skills
- Flexibility – including an openness to work on new or multiple technologies, not just what they know
Here is a pie chart representing the roles split by function which our team at Kerry Consulting worked on during the second quarter of 2020. The most active areas are respectively, (1) Project Management, Business Analysis and Product Management, (2) Software Engineering, followed by (3) Security, (4) Data and (5) Infra/ Cloud.
Roles acquired by Kerry Consulting in Q2 2020
At Kerry Consulting, we have a very experienced team of tech recruiters who have strong networks of companies and talent across many industries. So if you would like to discuss your technology hiring needs or next career move, please get in touch with us: