Tech talent in Asia

One of the major challenges of tech companies worldwide is to find, hire and retain skilled talent. The increasing labour costs has also spurred many major tech companies and startups to search for skilled and competitively-priced tech talent in Asia.

Here’s a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of sourcing tech talent in countries within Asia.

Tech Talent in China

PROS CONS
1. China has a large pool of highly-educated and highly-skilled tech talents. In 2014, China has over 81 million science and tech professionals. It is estimated that by 2020, 50 percent of China’s tech talent workforce will be serving its domestic demands – a large percentage compared to other competing markets worldwide. A competitive tech sector that makes it difficult to attract and retain tech talents. Talents would usually move to corporations that are able to provide better monetary compensation.
2. The government plays a very critical role in developing tech talents in China. This is done through generous investment initiatives and strong university-government partnerships. Compared to other Asian countries, tech talent in China (particularly in first-tier cities) is one of the most expensive in Asia. Salaries of top-level positions are almost on par with salaries found in Silicon Valley.
3. Tech talent are mostly located in first-tier cities in China (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen). Increasingly, second-tier cities (e.g. Dalian, Hangzhou) are fast becoming an equally important resource for tech talent. The workforce is largely Chinese-speaking which may create a language and cultural barrier for tech companies intending to establish their businesses in China.

Tech Talent in India

PROS CONS
1. Similar to China, India has a large pool of highly-educated and highly-skilled tech talents. India currently has the largest pool of tech talent in the world. Lack of job opportunities result in tech talents taking up jobs that does not match their qualifications.
2. Reverse brain drain effect: Top tech talents that have gained significant experience working in tech companies based in the Silicon Valley are returning home to contribute to India’s booming tech sector. Brain drain effect: Most of the top tech talents in India find job opportunities overseas due to the low salaries and lack of job opportunities available in India.
3. India is the top tech-related outsourcing hub in the world.
4. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India. However, English is also used as a language for business, education and government services.
5. Labour costs are kept low by hiring talented fresh graduates and young tech workers.

Tech Talent in Indonesia

PROS CONS
1. Top tech talents in Indonesia can be found in successful local startups such as Tokopedia and MatahariMall. Foreign companies may take advantage of the expertise of the tech talents in the domestic market. Highly skilled talent only account for 10 percent of total employment in Indonesia.
2. Public universities in Indonesia are beginning to develop partnerships with private sectors to boost research & development and entrepreneurship among their students. Brain drain effect: Most of the top tech talents in Indonesia find job opportunities overseas due to the low salaries available in their home country.
3. Competitive labour costs. Lack of investment from the government to improve the country’s formal education and workforce training for the tech sector. Indonesia’s current education system is also not in tandem with the needs of the tech sector – skills taught in schools may be irrelevant to skills required in the tech sector.

Tech Talent in Japan

PROS CONS
1. Japan currently is the third-largest information and communication technology (ICT) industry in the world. It also has one of the most innovative and well-established tech industry in Asia, ensuring that the tech talent in Japan are not only highly-educated and highly-skilled, but are also equipped with a vast amount of technical experience. Japan’s increasingly ageing population would pose a challenge for the country to meet the demands of the tech sector in the future. The Japanese are also more inclined in joining the finance and medical sectors that offer better monetary renumeration.
2. The government, public universities and the private sector in Japan are fully supportive in encouraging entrepreneurship and developing tech talents from within the country. Fresh graduates are more likely to work in large corporations that provide a stable career rather than risking their career in a startup.

Tech Talent in the Philippines

PROS CONS
1. Its local universities are producing more than 130,000 IT and engineering graduates yearly. Brain drain effect: Most of the top tech talents in the Philippines migrate overseas for job opportunities due to the lack of work opportunities in their home country and the poorly paid salary.
2. Philippines has a largely English-speaking population. It is the fifth largest English-speaking population in the world. The education curriculum in the Philippines may not adapt in tandem with the needs of the changing tech industry. As a result, potential tech professionals in the country may be learning outdated content.
3. Philippines is the 2nd top tech-related outsourcing hub in the world after India. Lack of strong government support in developing tech talent in the Philippines.
4. Competitive labour costs. The workforce is known to be risk-aversive where individuals prefer to work in big corporations rather than risking their career in a startup.

Tech Talent in Singapore

PROS CONS
1. Its public universities have consistently been ranked to be among the top universities in Asia, producing a steady stream of highly-educated and highly-skilled tech professionals. Singapore is currently having a tech talent shortage particularly in the sectors of engineering, coding and programming. Singaporeans perceive such jobs to have low pay and low in prestige (vs finance or medical sectors)
2. English is one of the official languages of Singapore. Due to the country’s bilingual educational policy, the workforce is largely English-speaking. The workforce is known to be risk-aversive where individuals prefer to work in big corporations that offer stability rather than risking their career in a startup that may end up in failure. The government is intending to change such mentality by encouraging entrepreneurship among its citizens and transforming Singapore into an entrepreneurial hub.
3. The government is fully supportive of developing the tech talent in Singapore. In 2016, a sum of USD90 million has been set aside to train more professionals for the information and communication technology (ICT) industry.

 

Tech Talent in South Korea

PROS CONS
1. South Korea has a vibrant tech industry comprising of large Korean tech conglomerates (e.g. Samsung, LG) and successful startups in the domestic market (e.g. Kakao, Line, Coupang). Top tech talents in South Korea can be found in these companies, bringing with them strong expertise and experience that is knowledgeable of the domestic market. The workforce is known to be risk-aversive where individuals prefer to work in big corporations such as Samsung and LG rather than risking their career in a startup. A job position in a reputable company also signifies one’s status and socio-economic position in the society.
2. The government and the private sector is fully supportive in creating an entrepreneurial culture and developing tech talent in South Korea. Brain drain effect: Most of the top tech talents in South Korea are migrating to neighbouring China as it offers better job opportunities and salaries as compared to their home country.
3. South Korea has an excellent education system that has been able to produce highly-skilled tech talent for the country.

Tech Talent in Taiwan

PROS CONS
1. Taiwan is widely known for its well-established semiconductor industry which has developed some of the top tech talents in Taiwan. The industry also ensures that there is a large pool of tech talent available in Taiwan. Brain drain effect: Most of the top tech talents in Taiwan are also migrating to neighbouring China as it offers better job opportunities and salaries as compared to their home country.

 

Tech Talent in Thailand

PROS CONS
1. The government is fully supportive in encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship among its citizens and are committed in developing its pool of tech talents. While the government has been envisioned the transformation of Thailand’s education system into one that is focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning, little educational reform has been done to make the vision into reality.
2. Public universities in Thailand have initiated partnerships with leading companies in the tech sector and develop intensive tech programmes to ensure that their students are highly-educated and highly-skilled in the tech sector. Despite the initiatives implemented by the government and public universities, Thailand is still experiencing a severe shortage of tech talent.
3. Thailand is fast rising to become a major tech-related outsourcing hub in Asia. The country is currently the 8th best tech-related outsourcing hub in the world.
4. Competitive labour costs.

Tech Talent in Vietnam

PROS CONS
1. The government is fully committed in developing tech talent in the country, particularly among the younger generation where tech-related subjects are taught in local schools. Educators, non-governmental organisations and private tech companies are also supportive of such a move. While fresh graduates have good technical skills, they usually lack practical experience.
2. Highly-skilled workforce at competitive labour costs. Around 83 percent of university students in Vietnam are currently enrolled in science, computing and engineering programmes.
3. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi has been ranked as among the top 20 tech-related outsourcing cities in the world.

 

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