Why are people talking about a Tech Talent Crunch in Singapore?

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Despite global economic worries related to the COVID-19 pandemic, international companies and investors have shown confidence in Singapore’s ambitions to become a regional (and global) tech hub.

In recent months we have seen companies such as China’s Tencent, Bytedance, U.S.-based Zoom Video Communications, Grab and Sea commit to expansion in Singapore in 2021.

Recently (February 2021), we have seen Dell commit to an investment of US$50 million and the creation of more than 160 job opportunities in Singapore through its new Global Innovation Hub.

Singapore attracted S$17.2 billion in fixed-asset investment commitments last year, up from S$15.2 billion in the previous year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) in January. This also marks the highest investment since 2008.

And, according to the EDB’s report, such investment will create an expected 19,352 jobs over the next five years and that digital-related roles will account for 24 per cent.

So, with such investment and the positive news of job creation why is the term “tech talent crunch” being used within the industry and media in Singapore?

Singapore has a talented workforce of citizens and permanent residents which is supplemented by specialist foreign talent from across the world, but with a limited population, there is a somewhat limited pool of talent by size. Unlike the US & China, Singapore does not have other cities or regions where talent can be pooled from and bringing in foreign talent has a limit based both on demographic and social pressures.

Singapore has made great efforts to “upskill” it’s citizen workforce, but with restrictions on travel and immigration due to Covid 19, and stricter government policies on immigration in recent years, there have been fewer foreign talents coming into Singapore to fill roles that cannot be filled by the local talent pool.

It could be considered that in respect to talent who will lead Singapore to it’s global tech hub status, quality will be favoured over quantity. 

Companies are looking to place their key decision making digital leadership and management teams here in Singapore where projects will be centred. And, such high calibre professionals are limited in supply but in high demand. 

Along with new investment, companies and jobs in the market, the accelerated pace of digital transformation in Singapore means that companies need the best tech talent to bolster their existing systems, such as migration to cloud or other DevOps projects.

AWS accredited, Application Development, DevOps, CIOs and other IT roles have boomed in the last year and we can expect this to continue.

What is the solution to a possible “Tech Talent Crunch” in Singapore?

Longterm, Singapore recognises it needs to develop more local talent from its education system and upskilling programmes. And, it will need to continue to attract the most innovative tech companies and talented IT professionals.

In the short term, there will be increased competition for the best tech people and businesses will need to recognise their value, especially with a restricted pool of potential employees. As the world rises from the COVID 19 pandemic and travel and migration becomes more viable, allowing international tech talent into Singapore’s market will be crucial to the growth of companies across industries and in turn keeping Singapore aligned with it’s goals of cementing the nation as a global tech hub.

At Menrva Group, we are continuing to help our partners develop their digital growth and transformation. 

Menrva Search helps our partners find the best talent to fulfil their requirements and future ambitions.

Menrva Consulting pulls from an extensive network of consultants with deep knowledge and experience to help with change and transformation.

Singapore has made their vision of the future, and its commitment to it, quite clear and we are optimistic that Singapore will continue to support organisations that are willing to invest heavily in the nations tech hub aspirations, included the supply of talent.

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