Why The Singapore Tech Scene Needs Latecomers

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Singapore is poised to become Asia’s Silicon Valley, as a global financial center that houses the regional headquarters of tech giants like Alibaba, Google, Stripe and Grab. But its reach doesn’t stop there—tech is becoming increasingly present in our daily lives, touching all of us in one way or another: how food is delivered to us, how we shop, travel, work and communicate.

Whilst the tech sector grows exponentially, an increasing number of Singaporeans are thinking of a mid-career switch. Disgruntled with the status quo, disrupted by the pandemic or technology, or just looking for a fresh start, many are considering a career change.

However, there is still much doubt and anxiety that holds them back. A lack of confidence and fear of failure are mental obstacles to overcome, on top of practical ones, such as starting from the bottom of the ladder, or even taking pay cuts. On a larger scale, although Singapore’s Economic Development Board has attracted many tech giants to set up regional headquarters here, there are relatively few Singaporeans that are ready to join these companies.

But we are now at a particularly opportunistic time for people thinking of joining the tech industry to swallow their doubts and take the leap. Different factors come together to create a near-perfect entry point into the industry. In this article, we explore these factors and answer the questions:

Singapore faces a severe tech talent crunch

As the tech giants scale up, and more sweep in to plant their headquarters in our city, the tech industry is going to need a lot more talent. When a company expands globally, they need Singapore-based talent with local knowledge and expertise across all sectors, like marketing, software engineering, business development. In fact, according to NodeFlair—which is currently helping hire for companies like Shopee—up to 500 new tech vacancies are posted each week on job sites.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, confirms this, revealing that the information communications sector needs another 60,000 professionals over the next three years.

The never normal

It’s been said again and again: COVID-19 has changed the game. Upending the labour force, work mindsets and personal priorities have shifted the market forces, cracking open slivers of opportunities for those looking to jump ship.

Not only has the job market been disrupted, but more than half of employers in Singapore agree that the pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitisation in the workplace. This means that more tech skills are needed—from accounting to supply chain management to coding. In supply chain management, learning the coding languages SQL or Python can automate many manual, labour-intensive tasks traditionally done on Excel. For instance, one can build their own tools to do repetitive tasks, like generating reports or forecasting. Self-built programmes like these can expedite processes and help to make data-driven decisions.

For instance, to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the job market, the government rolled out aggressive job and training support schemes. Citizens were privy to wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme and, later, the Jobs Growth Incentive and the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package under which about 180,000 job openings, traineeships or attachments, and training places have been made available to job seekers.

Hybridised skills are needed in today’s world

Diving into the tech industry mid-career can feel impossible, especially coming from a completely different industry, such as marketing or hospitality. It almost feels like stepping into a foreign country and having to fend for yourself.

But skills are almost always transferable—much like how stepping into a new country doesn’t mean that you have to re-learn things like forming relationships, feeding yourself, or driving a car.

In today’s world, multi-disciplinary people with hybrid skills are needed and even coveted. For instance, tech professionals who used to major in computer science now have to apply those skills to product development, marketing or accounting.

At Rocket Academy, we see students from all industries—from horse racing to delivery riders. These people have begun to see that software tech is industry-agnostic and has permeated every aspect of the way the world works. Armed with a sense of curiosity and a desire to future-proof their skills, these students look towards schools that bridge that gap.

No longer do people sit in siloes—programmers are no longer just programmers. They are designers, leaders, writers and entrepreneurs, and each industry brings a unique and necessary skill set to the tech industry. And when all these skills are put together in a melting pot, innovation just might happen.

Singapore’s tech workforce of the future

Asia’s Silicon Valley can be more than just a plain space of STEM graduates from top-performing universities. Now that the world is one where consumers are more aware environmentally, socially, and digitally, the tech industry is in dire need of diverse, multi-faceted, and experienced people in different areas.

In tandem with the world becoming more socially aware, the future is looking to become increasingly digitised. As every company sprints towards digital transformation, the demand for tech workers will only increase exponentially. As a result, not only will successful software engineers enjoy some of the highest salaries amongst all professions, but they will secure a high level of job security for the foreseeable future.

Today, coding has become a language like any other that one learns. Primary school children learn coding alongside English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil. Tomorrow, knowing coding as a language will become common, and even imperative in most white-collared jobs. Make sure you know how to speak it.