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Singapore banks forced to pay bigger salaries amid tech talent crisis

There remains a shortage for technology workers in the Singapore banking and finance sector, despite the introduction of overseas hiring programmes like Tech.Pass and new the Employment Pass criteria.

Sachet Sethi, manager of tech and transformation, Robert Walters Singapore, says “there will continue to be a shortage for some time if the demand for certain skillsets far surpasses the supply of professionals able to fill that need”.

He says as more firms adopt cloud technologies and other innovations, demand for talent with specific technical expertise like DevOps will continue to outstrip manpower available.

Similarly, Aarti Budhrani, associate director, Michael Page Singapore, says that the limited local talent pool and rapid digital shifts have resulted in a shortage of software developers, DevOps engineers and cybersecurity specialists.

Sethi says employers are now willing to entice potential new entrants with increments of up to 25%, especially if these candidates are also holding multiple concurrent offers. However, this is dependent on other factors as well, such as total compensation, bonuses, stock options, benefits, and size and scale of the company and role.

Most banks are also slowly opening up to the possibilities of hiring from outside the finance sector.

“They are still looking for some level of financial experience especially when it comes to financial applications and platforms experience, but have become more willing to provide training to candidates who narrowly miss the mark, thereby getting them suited for relevant roles,” says Sethi.

However, when it comes to hiring technology workers from outside of Singapore, Budhrani says firms are still looking at the Singaporean candidate talent pool first before reviewing foreign candidates.

She says the same pool of tech candidates are being approached by firms in other countries, since most international borders have now opened up. “We do observe that most of the candidates prefer Singapore as it is a financial hub and a digital economy,” she adds.

However, with a new point system being launched as part of the recently revamped Employment Pass criteria (albeit not until next year), “things will definitely get more transparent, and that will direct us in the hiring process”, adds Budhrani.

Elsewhere, schemes like the Economic Development Board’s Tech.Pass initiative – an extension of the Tech@SG programme with the aim of attracting technopreneurs and other top tech talent to Singapore – will only help to plug the tech skills gap at more senior and leadership levels, says Sethi.

This could explain why companies still have a very strong focus on developing the Singapore core and upskilling local workers, he adds.

Looking ahead, companies may have to evaluate internal policies and abandon the typical hierarchical organisational chart in terms of designations. Instead, they will have to be open to considering new skills in tech, which Sethi believes can be beneficial for the company’s business as a whole. “Hence, there is an inherent need to focus on hiring, growing, and retaining employees with the willingness to learn new skills,” says Sethi.

Photo by Shawnn Tan on Unsplash

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AUTHORKelvin Ong Insider Comment

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