We have written about 5 key takeaways from Redefining SEA’s Tech Talent Strategy, our virtual event about offshoring and remote hiring co-hosted with the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB).
During the live Q&A, attendees at the virtual event, held on 23 June, posed several questions to the following speakers:
- Suresh Sukumar, Assistant Vice-President, Regional Partnerships & Singapore Businesses, EDB
- Gunawan Chiu, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of AIA
- Shaun Chong, CTO of Ninja Van
- Yeo Puay Lim, Commercial Director of Glints
Due to time constraints, the speakers were unable to answer all the attendees’ questions.
For clarity, Glints consolidated them into five overarching questions.
Here they are, along with their responses.
1. Will Singaporean tech talent find themselves without jobs as a result of a more affordable talent pool from Asia?
Singapore is preferred among global and local firms to house their leadership teams.
Some examples of leadership scopes include management, research & development and product engineering.
As such, Singapore’s tech talent tend to undertake more of such roles.
But for roles in digital solutions implementation such as developers and systems support engineers, hiring in Singapore may prove to be too costly.
That’s where more affordable talent pools such as those in Indonesia will bridge the manpower gap.
Both markets may be in the same industry, but their skill sets differ significantly.
That said, a serious shortage for tech talent exists in Singapore.
About 60,000 infocomm roles will be created in the next three years, but only 2,800 grads join the workforce every year, according to this Straits Times article.
Indonesian talent at Nongsa Digital Park, a Batam-based digital park venture helmed by EDB, could upskill via working at Singapore companies.
Web Imp, a Singapore-based firm that customises tech solutions for businesses, wrote in an article that treating his remote team in Nongsa as “factory workers” does not bode well for business sustainability.
“At Web Imp, we promote organically and train our local technical talent for the opportunity to become senior programmers and engineers so that they can fill the apparent gap,” wrote Web Imp co-founder Wilson Tan.
2. How much will companies save hiring tech talent in Indonesia as compared to Singapore?
Singapore’s high cost of living as well as the shortage of tech talent translates to high salary expectations by local tech professionals.
Glints TalentHub estimates that companies can save up to 70 percent if they offshore their tech talent to more affordable destinations, such as Indonesia.
Furthermore, by remote hiring via Glints TalentHub, basic costs such as office rentals, utilities, compliance and employee benefits would be taken care of.
This will save companies time and money contracting such services themselves.
3. What is the quality of tech talent in Indonesia?
Nongsa draws talent from the top institutions across Indonesia.
Aside from their tech education from higher learning institutions, Indonesian tech grads can sign up for additional training to get them ready to join the workforce.
Education providers have set up branches in Nongsa to equip Indonesian talent with skills required by Singapore-based employers.
An example is Glints Academy, which provides training in web and app development. Glints Academy also links graduates up with potential hirers in Singapore.
Many Glints Academy graduates have found employment with Singapore-based firms.
The Apple Developer Academy, launched in March 2019, is another example of a Nongsa-based training initiative.
Their programmes include software development and app design.
As mentioned in the response to Question 1, the exchange of skills and knowledge between Singapore companies and Indonesia talent has mutual benefits.
4. Are companies more open to offshoring or remote hiring now that work-from-home is the new norm?
Will that reduce Singapore’s competitiveness as a regional tech hub?
Singapore has drawn many global firms to set up their tech headquarters here.
According to an article by CNA, about 80 of the world’s top 100 tech companies have their regional headquarters in Singapore. Zoom, ByteDance, Tencent and Alibaba are just some big names.
The article added that the pandemic has directed many of these tech firms to set up a head office in Singapore.
Singapore’s sound economic fundamentals give global companies the confidence to set up a regional headquarters there.
Its strategic location the the heart of Southeast Asia also gives it a competitive edge over other markets.
Singapore is in the middle of Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan – geographies that have large tech talent pools.
These factors will help Singapore’s regional competitiveness, instead of reducing it.
Glints does not have any data as to whether more companies have formed offshore teams due to the pandemic.
But it is a real possibility that work-from-home being a new norm has made companies more open to remote hiring.
5. I don’t know how to start building a remote team. Any ideas?
There isn’t a magic number when it comes to how many remote hires to start wutg, says Gunawan Chiu, CTO of AIA and speaker at the event.
You could look at hiring a minimum number to start with, he added.
Glints CTO Seah Ying Cong has tips about hiring remotely from Indonesia.
These valuable lessons came from his early days as a Glints co-founder.
He advises companies to invest the time in hiring a manager first to align the team on their deliverables and their goals.
Doing this will help to engage the remote team in a way that they would adapt to Singaporean working cultures.
Under a capable manager, a remote team will flourish, says YC.