Key technology hiring trends in Asia

Asia Key technology hiring trends

Vietnam and Indonesia looking to increase tech head count.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen workplaces and employee roles severely disrupted. Changed forever, in fact. Working from home or working remotely is now a new norm, as organisations responded to the pandemic’s challenges by embarking on digital transformations that would have typically taken months, if not years, to implement.

According to Vivian Xiang practice director – Hong Kong at CXC noted as a result, digital skills and technology workers are now in high demand throughout the ASEAN region as rapid technology transformation takes place across a range of industries, with that process set to become a catalyst for future growth throughout the region.

For instance, one of the key thrusts of an ASEAN work group which is currently coming up with a COVID-19 recovery strategy for the region as a whole involves a wholehearted embrace of the digital transformation that COVID-19 has already brought to telecommuting and health management.

How to access the best digital talent

Company and workplace digitalisation has been an ongoing trend for a number of years now, but it has perhaps never been so more prominent as it is in 2021, as employees work from home and revenue streams are increasingly sought through online channels. 46 per cent of companies are restructuring organisations and departments due to changing business needs, more than one and a half times of in 2019 (30 per cent), and much of this can be linked to the digital revolution. However, as this is one of the most prominent areas of recruitment, competition for candidates will be fierce, leaving three options: upskill existing employees who show an aptitude in the area; recruit fresh graduates and groom them to become the digital stars of tomorrow; attract the best candidates on the market with substantial salaries. It is up to employers to decide which is more advantageous – and more expensive either in terms of budget or falling behind competitors – in the long run.

Improving innovation through diversity

According to Hays about 34 per cent of companies said that innovation was improved by the impositions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, compared to just 15 per cent who said that it had a negative impact, proving the old adage that crisis sparks innovation. As the market moves slowly into a post-pandemic world with improving economies and new opportunities, now is not the time to relax this impetus and fall back into old ways; rather, it is time to capitalise. Companies must investigate how they can build on this innovation to reach even greater heights, and one strategy is to improve workforce diversity.

Who are the top IT employees in different Asian countries

In China, according to Hays, companies are executing digitalisation transformation processes with data held in the cloud, security has become an increasingly important factor in how IT departments are utilised. However, as organisations are coming to realise, there is great importance in securing this data, and as such cybersecurity and data protection must be assured before taking these steps. This means that there is a requirement for IT experts in these related areas.

However, China is currently seeing a pronounced shortage of talent that possess the experience that most firms need, as candidates are generally lacking in localised expertise, instead possessing broader, less refined knowledge and skills. Companies that are successful in finding the optimal candidates will discover that their requirements are not merely fiscal, as equally important is the company’s prestige, its outlook, the level of security at which they may operate and the level of responsibility that they may hold. With that said, successful candidates can foresee financial increments of around 30 per cent.

While in Japan has long fostered a reputation for eschewing flexible working practices, with domestic companies and locally based MNCs akin in their rejection of mobile working and flexi-hours. However, the past year has put this tradition sharply at odds with the practicalities of public health.

Momentous changes in how Japan works have sparked demand throughout the IT sector, as businesses have had to quickly, and efficiently, transition to the ‘new normal’, and many of these changes will continue into 2021. Out of practical necessity, desktop support roles have escalated, as systems are transitioned and employees working from home require IT assistance. However, despite the demand for their services, desktop support operators can expect salaries to remain stable.

In Malaysia the last twelve months saw a blurring of the lines between the digital and information technologies and 2021 is expected to continue this trend.

This has been brought about by companies moving enterprise systems towards emerging techs and investing heavily in digitalisation capabilities. This new technology adoption, activated by the impositions of the pandemic, means greater investment in digital transformation, a result of which is an ever-increasing requirement for IT candidates, particularly those experienced in DevOps. Unfortunately, employers searching in this area are to be disappointed by the insufficient depth of the talent pool.

A further result of digital transformation is in companies adopting more agile methodologies in project implementation, and so project managers are required to put them into place and transform the way IT is executed. Even so, due to the difficulties inherent in transitioning from extant systems, candidates who can function in traditional languages will still be required, though they may contemplate upskilling in order to stay relevant.

An important point of note is that this recruitment animation is not purely replacement, but it will in fact be driven by headcount expansion, and with a focus on domestic hires, organisations must retain their experienced employees as well as enticing others from elsewhere.

This is especially important for tech developers, where candidates can expect 25 per cent salary increases as well as non-monetary benefits such as flexi-work and – in order to inspire loyalty and longevity – stock options.

In Singapore the IT sector is one of the most explosive areas in 2021. This will be most apparent in the cybersecurity realm, where a recent spate of attacks has highlighted the necessity for protection, leading to organisations allocating greater funds for security. However, employers are restricted by the necessity to recruit domestically, and in-demand candidates in the areas of government risk and compliance, IT security operations, digital forensic response and penetration testing are well aware of their value and are thus demanding substantial salaries.

Paradoxically, this comes at a time when companies are tightening budgets, and employers and candidates will frequently come to an impasse. It is here that recruitment specialists must manage expectations on both sides, highlighting to the former that they may need to pay premium salaries for the right candidates, while the latter might be convinced that sideways moves are acceptable. In the meantime, with roles sometimes taking a year to be filled, companies are training new graduates and upskilling existing employees.

Perhaps even more prominent than cybersecurity in 2021 will be DevOps, as companies improve efficiency. Candidates that organisations will be prioritising are DevOps engineers with strong hands-on and continualisation skills, experience in the latest automation, and are familiar with cloud solutions such as Amazon Web Services and Google Platform.

However, due to extreme talent shortages, desperate employers are willing to accept systems engineers who have no direct DevOps background but have experience in enhanced current systems with reliability and efficiency.

Surprisingly, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions found the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn has had a significant impact across the Asia Pacific, however optimism in Vietnam and Indonesia is starting to emerge, according to research from Michael Page.

In Vietnam, about 50 per cent of companies are looking to increase their headcount and 30 per cent are looking to maintain the status quo in 2021. At the same time, 41 per cent of companies in Indonesia are looking to increase their headcount and 34 per cent maintaining status quo in 2021, said Mark Donnelly director of Michael Page Vietnam.

“By all accounts, Vietnam has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic better than many of its neighbours in the region. Its tight and swift control of the situation not only kept the number of cases low by comparison, Vietnam’s economy, too, remained in a relatively good shape over 2020,” said Donnelly. “While multinational companies based there were cautious on the recruitment front, domestic companies took the opportunity to ramp up their hiring activities and secure the best available talent.”

This recruitment activity was evident, particularly among Vietnam’s burgeoning technology sector. startups and e-commerce, for instance, operated unabated throughout the year, and hiring demands within those sectors were healthy, according to Michael Page.

While, in Indonesia, about 57 per cent of technology companies in Indonesia expect a 14 per cent increase in headcount on average in 2021. Over half, or 63 per cent, of employed technology professionals anticipate looking for new opportunities in 2021 while another 30 per cent is passively open to new ones, suggesting increased employment activity.

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