Hays’ digital technology hiring trends Asia 2020

The rapid pace of change in digital transformation for Asian organisation has undoubtedly pushed more candidates to give their skillset a good hard look and examine their relevancy and potential to upskill, stated the 2020 Hays Asia Salary Guide: Towards a Digitised and Flexible Future.

According to the global recruitment firm, the growing acknowledgement of skill gaps, as well as awareness of its impact on innovation.

Hays found digital skills such as data analytics have topped the list of priorities for employers, but soft skills such as problem solving, and communication are catching up very quickly.

Richard Eardley managing director Asia at Hays said many employers look to contracting or temporary workers to bring these highly sought-after skills to an organisation.

“[This marks] an interesting shift in Asia as they start understanding the value of alternative recruitment models,” he said. “Flexible recruitment solutions are certainly dynamics that both candidates and employers would do well to keep an eye on as this approach gains in popularity and adoption.”

Digital transformation China

According to Hays, China’s digital technology market saw steady growth in 2019 – although it was at a slower pace than the last two years, due to a variety of geopolitical tensions and economic pressures in the region.

Businesses were looking at technology to address operating inefficiencies as well as create new ways to reach and retain their customers. This renewed focus on digital transformation is anticipated to create a strong hiring shift towards candidates with expertise in emerging technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), IoT, AI, Blockchain and Machine Learning.

“The same shift will lead to higher salary expectations as well, and employers may need to prepare extra budget when setting up or investing in an emerging technologies team,” stated Hays. “Taking a broader look, we have observed increased investment in digital tech projects across a range of traditional industries in an effort to increase innovation.”

Hays said this can be seen in sectors like payments, agriculture, transport, food and hospitality which were not tech-driven previously. But with the rise of IoT and AI, there has been a significant surge in emerging-tech related jobs that will undoubtedly provide exciting opportunities and projects in these areas.

Subhead: Hong Kong adopting analytics and machine learning

In Hong Kong SAR the financial services industry has started to put more emphasis on predicting future events by adopting advanced analytics and machine learning technology. As a result, 2019 saw an increased need for data scientist candidates within financial services that is expected to continue in the coming year. Front-end developers and cloud architect roles have also increased in the market.

According to Hays since talent in these areas is currently limited, candidates with domain knowledge in these fields are highly desired and are able to draw high salary increments. For the same reason.

Companies that are willing to train and develop new joiners will be able to cut their time to hire dramatically,” states Hays. “The demand in this space has also made it more common for candidates to move companies after just one-two years in their current role.

This has also driven salaries up as candidates still expect 10-15 per cent increments at every jump. Hays recommends help organisations combat this is to hire from overseas.

Hays found language skills may be an issue in this case, the strong technical knowledge such candidates can bring will be immensely beneficial to the projects currently happening in Hong Kong.

“With the announcement of several virtual banking licenses, an increasing demand for data scientists and data governance professionals will be expected to help these businesses set up their data framework and business models,” Hays states. “Outside of virtual banking, another trend being seen in the market is the setting up of innovation labs.”

As data analytics drives growth for companies and consumers become more tech-savvy, expectations for faster and better ways of doing business are rising. Also, local regulatory bodies have also been tightening their governance on data quality and assurance, once again requiring data governance and data scientists to set up the local offices. This high demand has resulted in high expectations of salary packages and increments.

Japan tech and fintech boom

Carrying forward from 2018 and 2019, professionals in digital technology continue to be in high demand owing to the ongoing tech and fintech boom in Japan.

According to Hays alongside the expansion of blockchain activities as well as online and mobile payments, this demand is also spurred by new IT projects like the implementation of 5G in the country, and general growth in online activities.

“To progress from a culture that still transacts mainly in cash, the Japanese government is making significant efforts to promote and facilitate more cashless payments,” Hays states. “This includes a target to increase the rate of cashless payment transactions to 40 per cent by 2025, leading many organisations to begin locally developing systems to cope with the surge in demand.”

Hay found Web/mobile development has become a huge area of demand in this respect. Owing to the domestic nature of the mobile payment industry, employers would rather hire developers who can speak fluent /native level Japanese over bilingual engineers.

“Companies are also looking to hire junior engineers and train them on the job, as the industry is relatively new and highly qualified native talent may be hard to find,” states the recruitment firm. “Cashless payment systems are also required to have strong security, leading to a rise in demand for cyber security specialists from both in-house and vendor side organisations.”

Japan’s plan to launch commercial 5G services in 2020 is currently underway, with several Japanese mobile carriers in the process of completing construction of their networks.

“This has led to demand and attractive remuneration for talent with 5G related knowledge, including researchers and network, optical or telecommunications engineers,” Hays said.

Malaysia emerging tech

The IT market is currently undergoing a period of redefinition in anticipation of future technology growth, marked by a rising demand for newer technologies like AI, machine learning, big data and cloud from big players in the market.

“One of the most noticeable ongoing trends is an increasing demand for digital product management skills,” states Hays. “More organisations are looking for product managers who display strong technical knowledge and can also act as the voice of a product.”

Product candidates with strong communication skills and commercial acumen will be able to draw salaries up to five per cent higher than traditional product managers.  A key talent shortage that both MNCs and start-ups are struggling with currently is local candidates with UX and product experience.

According to Hays, this is because candidates with relevant experience tend to prefer working in Singapore or more mature markets like the U S or Australia.

“Most companies across industries now rely on cloud computing and consequently, the space is expected to see growth over the coming year,” it states. “The demand for cloud and dev-ops talent has been growing but is unable to be met by the small pool of candidates in the market.”

Candidates with skillsets or experience in automation tools and microservices, as well as build and release engineering on cloud, are also hard to find. However, security in 2020 will go beyond just protecting sensitive data and keeping hackers at bay, and more towards scientific and business opportunities in big data, artificial intelligence, and cooperation on data and IT security.

“The function will also focus on enabling organisations to collaborate and monetize their data without being exposed to privacy breaches or misuse of data,” states Hays. “Smart data technologies used to only be actively applied by huge enterprises and corporations but today, big data has become available to a wide range of small businesses and companies.”

The related functions of analytics and machine learning have consequently become highly sought-after in the market, alongside robotic process automation (RPA) skillsets that can apply game-changing automation technology.

As a result, Hays states, data scientists and machine learning specialists are some of the most highly sought-after candidates within the current IT market.

Singapore shifting paradigm in enterprise readiness

If 2018 was about the proliferation of digital technology, 2019 witnessed a paradigm shift in enterprise readiness where most organisations successfully evolved from ‘being aware but lacking confidence’ to accepting and proactively supporting the adoption of emerging technologies, states Hays.

“This was likely motivated by the rising number of celebrated use cases that have proven very successful across respective industries,” it states. “Demand remains steadfast and companies are evidently taking a more proactive and hands-on approach when it comes to hiring in an effort to combat the ever talent-short market.”

In addition, the mounting prevalence of technical assessments such as white boarding and pair-programming sessions suggests that companies are increasingly serious about distinguishing real, solid candidates from the rest of the ‘noise’.

This means aspirants who are serious about pursuing technical roles will need to polish their approach and skills more than ever before, said Hays.

“During 2019 some of the most aggressive counter-offer strategies from companies in order to retain their best talent. At the same time, the market is increasingly faced with candidates who have multiple offers in hand.”

However, wage pressure continues to intensify for candidates with skills in demand, and we are seeing a rise in the number of companies struggling to meet desired salaries in lieu of ‘internal parity’ and losing out as a result.

“With the technology and banking sector leading the way in ‘paying by skill and not by experience’, 2020 should see more businesses finding the balance between internal equity and acknowledging the value of skills in demand,” said Hays.


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