Sep 13 2021

Overcoming Singapore’s Talent Shortage: A Look at Top Talent Hubs

“The business world is currently scrambling to find talent with today’s in-demand skills, particularly technology skills.”

The business world is currently scrambling to find talent with today’s in-demand skills, particularly technology skills.

Mckinsey predicted this shortage back in 2001 urging companies to armor themselves with the ability to “attract, develop, and retain talent.” This advice has never been more valuable than it is today.

By 2030, it is very likely that we could see a talent shortage of 85.2 million people with a financial impact of US$8.452 trillion in unrealized annual revenue — that's the combined GDP of both Germany and Japan, according to Korn Ferry.


Singapore’s talent shortage

It is expected that, in Singapore, we could potentially see the highly skilled worker deficit hit 1.1 million by 2030, which, is approximately 61.3 percent of said workforce. The recent pandemic has aggravated a deteriorating situation — Covid-19-related border restrictions and stringent international worker labor policies have exacerbated the tech talent deficit.

We are seeing an influx of juggernauts such as ByteDance, Alibaba, Zoom, Stripe, Tencent, and Huawei who have opened offices and headquarters in Singapore.

To address the skills shortage, Singapore has set up Tech. Pass — the visa given to international tech entrepreneurs, leaders, or experts entering the city-state. by the Singapore Economic Development Board.

But is this enough?

Image Attribution: Freepik

Singapore-based companies have begun taking their talent search across borders in response to the lack of local talent. They are now targeting talent hubs that are known for quality tech talent.

Here are four major talent hubs that companies in Singapore could take a look at:

1. Houston

A prominent place for young professionals to kick-start a career in tech, Houston is now home to the many tech professionals previously concentrated in a few cities.

Apart from its considerable tech talent, particularly in software and web developers, systems and cybersecurity analysts, IT support specialists, and network architects, Houston is seen to act as a conduit for unparalleled tech success.

Houston’s ranking third in the overall fDi Tier 2 Cities of the Future report is a testament to that. It has earned this prestigious place also because it houses five global Universities, over 30 international baccalaureate schools, nationally ranked graduate schools, and community colleges. Clearly, a place that values education, above all.

The report also ranked Houston at sixth place in the Business Friendliness category. Not surprisingly, the Lone Star State of Texas boasts zero personal and corporate income tax—ideal for companies ready to expand and hire cost-efficient talent.

Despite being the third-highest city, after New York and San Francisco, to file for H-1B visas, the average H-1B salary was significantly lower in Houston than many prominent tech hubs. At an average salary of US$88,442, Houston workers expected compensation over 18 percent less than workers based in New York.

2. Canada

Often dubbed as the next Silicon Valley, Toronto has rapidly taken over as the flourishing hub for engineering talent in the Americas.

In 2021 alone, DoorDash, Shopify, and Pinterest have all set up engineering hubs in Canada, with Shopify announcing plans to double its team to 1,500 by 2022. Back in 2018, Uber set up an impressive five-year US$200 million investment project to build an engineering hub in Toronto.

Toronto is also home to world-class universities such as the University of Toronto. In 2021, its engineering program ranked third among North American Public Universities—a testament to the next generation of growing talent. The city also boasts diversity with over 250 ethnicities and 170 languages.

3. Sri Lanka

Apart from the need for qualified accountants and commercial analysts, payroll professionals are also growing in demand. For Sri Lanka, fulfilling that need is easy.

With a population of about 20 million, Sri Lanka's highly skilled niche market boasts of expertise in accountancy. Their internationally certified accountants provide unmatched accounting services and financial analytics, solidifying the country's position as a knowledge hub for human capital.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka placed current memberships at 5,100 has an active student base of over 44,000. The widespread adoption of English, high literacy rates of over 90 percent, competitive labor costs, and relatively low attrition rates add to Sri Lanka being a good space to scout for, during these times of talent shortage.

4. Ukraine

Ukraine has more than 192,100 IT professionals and over 1,600 companies providing diverse IT-related services, making it the perfect fit as a leading IT outsourcing destination with an enormous pool of qualified technology talent. Over 47 percent of its developers are fluent in English, and the IT professional workforce is expected to hit 225,000 by 2022 and 242,000 by 2025.

Samsung Electronics, Google, and Microsoft have already begun to take their share of the pie and hire R&D (research and development) teams in cities all over Ukraine.

What does this mean for Singapore's Talent Shortage?

As the war for professional talent heats up, the previous model to deal with the talent shortage in Singapore will no more hold good. They may not have any talent to spare and are most likely waging their own battles to retain the professionals they do have.

A 2019 survey by Robert Walters found that among the nearly 400 technology professionals and hiring managers across Southeast Asia, 68 percent of tech hiring managers have affirmed that it took three months or more to fill an open tech position.

While adopting a remote-first mindset for their workforces is a good step, companies in Singapore must know where to hire from to build teams of the future. (Read: 5 Evolutions Spurred by a Remote Workforce (hrtech.sg))

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Globalization Partners on hrtech.sg Marketplace & 2021 Singapore HRTech Marketmap.


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