Tech talent has been growing, but demand is growing faster in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock

Tech talent has been growing, but demand is growing faster in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock

Indeed APAC Economist on dealing with job mismatch in Singapore

DEMAND for technology talent has always been soaring in Singapore as the country seeks to retain its position as the region’s premier digital hub.

Given the demand for digital-first products and services, businesses of all kinds are recruiting technology professionals in large numbers — it’s not just technology companies such as Google and Grab making all the hires.

As a result, despite the pool of technology professionals in the country rising steadily, the talent gap continues to widen.

A recent study by jobs portal Indeed found that talent shortages in Singapore do exist, particularly for technology roles such as software engineer, software architect, full-stack developer, and data scientist — all of which see an increasing number of advertisements from companies.

The report, which focuses on “jobs mismatch” — the gap between the skills that a company needed and the skills that are available among candidates in the job market — observed a decline from 44 percent in January 2015 to 36 percent in May 2019 in the Singapore market.

“It indicates that the job market in Singapore has adjusted to the needs of businesses and more talent is available with the right skills,” Indeed APAC Economist Callam Pickering told Tech Wire Asia.

Singapore is training to bridge the talent gap

While Indeed’s study reveals that a talent shortage, especially among tech professionals, still exists in Singapore, Pickering also admits that the government is making significant efforts to bridge that gap — which is yielding results.

“Anything that the government can do to address the gap goes a long way,” said Pickering.

TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), the 2016 initiative by the Singapore government to train technology talent in the country has been making significant progress over the past few years.

Aside from supporting employers keen on training and upskilling their staff, it helps individuals looking to acquire technology skills, and also makes financial assistance available for this purpose.

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), which runs TeSA, recently announced a partnership with tech giants such as LinkedIn and Shoppee, and agreed to collaborate with Microsoft — all for various programs to boost tech skills in Singapore.

“It is essential for Singaporeans to familiarise themselves with various digital tools for the workplace and in their daily lives as we face rapid technological advancements. SSG continues to work closely with the Labour Movement, NTUC learning hub, and industry partners […] to help enterprises and workers tap on new opportunities arising from the digital transformation of our economy,” said SSG Chief Executive Ng Cher Pong.

Smart companies must focus on grooming talent

Speaking to Tech Wire Asia, Pickering made an important point about finding the right talent:

“Often companies realize that finding the exact technology talent is difficult. The smart ones, therefore, choose to find fresh candidates with the right aptitude and groom them through internal training programs to fill the jobs and roles they seek to fill.”

Pickering explains that a big reason for the jobs mismatch in the technology sector is due to the fact that the industry changes quite quickly and candidates seldom have a finger on the pulse of what the market will need tomorrow.

Therefore, companies need to work with local universities to identify skills that will be needed in the future and provide feedback and maybe even some support for training programs.

To be fair, a large number of students are attracted to technology as a subject and field and are looking to acquire skills so they can get a job and earn a good living. Having the support of companies and hearing from them about the skills they’ll be looking for in the near future can only be helpful to students said Pickering.

While Singapore is doing well with technology, in order for it to keep accelerating towards new innovations in the space and provide companies with all the support they need to digitally transform and mature, companies will need to play a bigger role in training. Those that don’t might struggle soon.