Indonesia may hold the key to winning the war on tech talent

Moses Xiao
Moses Xiao
November 5, 2021

Singapore is being tipped to become Southeast Asia’s tech capital. But does it have the workforce to meet its growing demands?

Since last year, tech giants such as Bytedance and Alibaba have planted their roots in Singapore, jostling with the likes of Grab and Google using aggressive recruitment strategies for a large chunk of an increasingly small pie.

This tech boom, while welcomed, masks a daily struggle for the masses. The tech talent supply-demand mismatch is a serious cause for concern.

Singapore produces just under 2,000 tech professionals every year. Compare this to the 70,000 professionals needed in the next three years, and that is a huge disparity. With an insufficient supply, it has become increasingly difficult for startups and SMEs to attract the right talent.

Met with stiff competition, many have turned to hiring remote talent in Indonesia as their panacea.

At our recent webinar Building Regional Tech Teams in SEAIndonesia Market Deep Dive supported by IMDA, entrepreneurs Bryan See Toh, CEO and Co-founder of Park N Parcel, and Jin Lee, Co-founder of Tictag.io, together with Glints’ Commercial Director Puay Lim Yeo, joined us for an insightful session where they shared about the opportunities afforded by the diverse talent landscape in Indonesia.

Here are 3 key takeaways from the event:

1. Tech is fuelling a next gen workforce

Worth US$130 billion, Indonesia is expected to be the biggest online economy in the region by 2025. Furthermore, among SEA’s top 10 unicorns, four are established in Indonesia: GoJek, Tokopedia, Traveloka, and Bukalapak.

As a result, the tech industry is a tailwind creating demand for skills in Indonesia. Top emerging areas such as AI, DevOps, data and programming are dictating the conversation.

To keep pace with market trends, the Indonesia talent pool, comprising 260 million young, high-potential professionals, are equipping themselves with a variety of soft and hard skills, especially in the fields of e-commerce, data science, fintech and machine learning.

Software engineers are learning in-demand programming languages, and keeping themselves updated with up-and-coming frameworks like Flutter.

2. Tech-adjacent roles are also flourishing

While the tech ecosystem in Indonesia is breeding a new generation of professionals, talent in business development, sales and marketing functions are also flourishing. As tech businesses scale up, these professionals have enhanced their capabilities to support commercialisation activities.

Most of the time when employers think of remote teams, they not only see them as complementary to their business in Singapore, but also complementary to their business in the region.

Indonesia is commonly the first point of entry due to its large digital economy and close proximity. Many employers have found strategic ways of seeding these talents as a way of entering the market in a practical and cost-effective manner.

3. But be mindful of cultural differences

While harnessing the Indonesia talent pool begins to gain traction, employers must also be privy to the challenges of working with multicultural teams and adapt to this new hybrid setup. The most salient being unclear expectations stemming from a language barrier.

To avoid misconceptions over productivity, it is important to establish good hygiene practices such as daily stand-ups or weekly sync-ups to set clear expectations and keep track of progress.

Ensure everything is articulated properly during these meetings to exacerbate communication challenges. Also, set incremental milestones to familiarise new hires with a new work environment or codebase.


Take your first step in building great remote teams in Indonesia! Find out more about our solution designed to help you hire and onboard the right talent quickly and affordably.

This article is brought to you by Glints for Employers, the trusted partner of global startups and enterprises for talent recruitment and management in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Half the time, half the cost – our expert, tech-enabled team of recruiters will help match you with skilled candidates locally and across the region, and onboard new remote talents to your business quickly and affordably. 

Discover our full range of hiring services and start building great teams and capabilities today.

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