Despite global tech layoffs, Asia’s tech industry is thriving, with plenty of job opportunities for tech talent. The Asia tech job market is showing early signs of softening, according to a report by BCG and The Network, a global alliance of recruitment websites that includes SEEK’s JobStreet and JobsDB, with an 8% YoY decline in tech job ads in Q1 2023. While there has been a decrease, the figure is still 42% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
According to the World Economic Forum, 150 million new technology jobs are expected to be created over the next five years, with 77% of jobs requiring digital skills by 2030. However, businesses are currently facing a tech talent shortage, with only one-third (33%) of technology jobs globally filled by workers with the necessary digital skills.
Tech Collective analysis: From rescinded job offers to regional mass layoffs: the tech talent scene in Southeast Asia is a mess
According to data from SEEK’s platforms, the average number of applications per tech job ad in Asia has increased by more than 40% YoY 3, indicating that tech talent affected by layoffs is actively looking for work or is optimistic about their chances of finding a better job elsewhere.
To find out more about the study and the current market situation, we spoke to Peter Bithos, CEO, Asia, SEEK. From giving an in-depth analysis of the market and
While there is an increase in demand for tech jobs in Southeast Asia, are you seeing any impact from the ongoing tech winter?
Many traditional tech companies are now scaling back after over-hiring during the pandemic, and the cooling hiring rate may persist as businesses are faced with higher interest rates and a possible recession. Hence, we’re seeing a slight decline in the year-on-year demand for tech talent (Q1 2022 vs Q1 2023) at -8%.
Nonetheless, the need for strong tech talent won’t be going away anytime soon. The volume of tech job ads on our platforms is still 42% higher than pre-COVID levels (Q1 2019 vs Q1 2023), indicating that the demand for tech talent remains strong despite the easing of tech hiring activities. To put things into perspective, in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower reported that there was a total of 6,440 retrenchments in 2022 across all industries, but the number of tech roles available on JobStreet Singapore still exceeded 10,000 every month last year.
Have you seen a shift in the types of technology jobs being advertised in the region?
The growing popularity of AI and increasing adoption of the technology by companies in recent times have spurred the demand for talent with AI-related competencies.
Across Asia, AI roles on our platforms have increased almost fivefold in Q1 2023 compared to pre-pandemic levels (Q1 2019). In Singapore specifically, the demand for AI roles has grown eightfold in the same corresponding period, based on the number of job ads.
Are there any markets in Southeast Asia that have been showing continued growth when it comes to tech talent availability and demand?
The data from SEEK’s platforms shows that the average number of applications per tech job ad in Asia has increased by over 40% YoY (Q1 2022 vs Q1 2023), which could indicate that tech talent affected by layoffs is actively applying for jobs, or they are optimistic about their chances of finding a better job elsewhere. We see this trend consistently across all six Asian markets that we operate in, namely Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
When it comes to tech talent demand, the most prominent growth can be seen in Singapore, which recorded a 2.5x increase in the volume of job ads on our platform between Q1 2019 and Q1 2023. In fact, Singapore continues to experience a 10% YoY growth in tech job ad volume (Q1 2022 vs Q1 2023) when the five other markets saw a slight decline, as the need for tech talent remains in the country that is known as the tech hub in the region.
How do you see the next 12 months playing out when it comes to tech talent demand?
In the next 12 months, it won’t be surprising if we see the year-on-year comparisons decline as we are now coming down from the peak of 2022’s job boom. However, it’s important to recognise that while a shift is taking place in the tech talent market, the ball is not back in employers’ court yet.
Tech talent is still in high demand, even as traditional tech companies are slowing down on their hiring activity. In fact, the recent layoffs have created an opening for non-tech companies to attract top talent from a growing pool of jobseekers with tech experience, as well as an opportunity to attract them to jobs that offer more stability
What’s next for SEEK in Southeast Asia?
Our number one priority is to continuously improve our offering and competitiveness, which is key to our long-term success. As a marketplace, we understand that the ultimate value we can provide our customers is successful job placements. That’s why we’re willing to invest heavily in improving our platforms, such as through enhanced AI capabilities and deep matching algorithms. Jobseekers can look forward to discovering more relevant opportunities that match their skillset, and employers can uncover more and better matches to talent, resulting in greater placement rates.
To effectively deliver on our purpose of helping people live more fulfilling and productive working lives, we also believe it is important that we evolve our platforms from being a job search site into a total digital career destination, so we can help people continuously grow in their careers no matter what stage they are in their professional lives. That’s why we introduced a new video-based learning platform in Indonesia last year called seekMAX, which is accessible to everyone for free on our JobStreet app. The platform contains thousands of bite-sized learning videos and online courses for talent who are looking to grow new skills or improve their existing professional skills, and we are rolling this out to our other markets in the region this year.