IT Market Insight: Australia and Singapore 2014
During the past couple of years, The IT labour markets in Australia and Singapore have been hampered by political circumstances.
With the threat of tight restrictions on skilled immigrants entering Singapore, its employment market is facing uncertain times. In contrast, confidence in Australia is high following a period of ‘limbo’ before the federal election in September 2013.
The IT skills market in the Asia Pacific market is being driven by global trends, such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, Mobile Development and IT security. As in Europe, consultants with experience and expertise in these areas are highly sought after and can command top end rewards. Companies are investing in the implementation of major IT and telecoms projects to race ahead of their competitors.
We look at how IT markets in Asia Pacific are responding, focusing on Singapore and Australia in particular.
Traditionally, the country has always relied on investment from foreign companies and an ex-pat workforce because of its strategic position in the region. However, tightening immigration rules and a move to favour local Singaporeans are creating a labour market crunch, which looks set to get worse if new laws are passed. Although the economic environment is positive and organisations are seeking to implement new IT projects, the country’s stance on immigration is leading to a shortage of highly skilled technology consultants and specialists available to work on them.
The labour crisis has prompted a number of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) to move some lower level IT functions to other countries within the region in an effort to counter this. Within Singapore, such roles were remaining unfilled for long periods of time because of a severe lack of candidates.
A catch-22 situation is developing in Singapore; companies are actively seeking mid – senior level experienced IT specialists and consultants. However, companies are favouring locals who are in short supply as they fear the government will further tighten entry rules for foreign workers. As there is no way of accurately predicting the outcome, businesses are being cautious. Significant skills shortages could cripple progression of IT projects, affecting the appeal of Singapore for global multinationals.
Immigration policy aside, the IT skills market for this quarter is more active than the previous one, boosted by a political desire to remain at the forefront of innovation. The Singapore government claims that it will invest ‘$500 million over 3 years’ into ‘adopting ICT solutions to increase productivity’, thus securing the growth of the IT market. The scheme plans to subsidise companies who want to invest in IT in a number of ways, including helping smaller businesses to pilot emerging technology, promoting investment in IT based productivity solutions and supporting a huge drive to increase and improve Broadbean and wireless services.
Whatever happens with regard to immigration, there is plenty of scope for the IT market to flourish. Consultancies with international capacity, such as Michael Bailey Associates, are likely to play an important role for companies who are willing to hire consultants from other countries. If in the future businesses decide to off shore further, having a partner with a strong international network could be crucial.
With a multicultural reputation and advantageous location in S E Asia, the IT market in Singapore is strong, and demand for highly skilled consultants is still high. The question is, will the ex-pat proportion of the country’s workforce remain the same, or gradually fall.
The 2013 election in September 2013 was the main obstacle hindering Australia’s economic growth, meaning that the economy struggled to gain any real momentum. Businesses and consumers were reluctant to spend, invest or employ new people until it was over. Since then, the country has been taking a cautious approach, with the majority of investment taking place in mining and construction.
As we move through 2014, it is anticipated that home building and mining exports will be the driving force for growth. It is widely predicted that the housing market will start to pick up, and consumer spending will steadily increase. With confidence already improving and companies starting to release budgets, we are already seeing an impact on the IT market as companies are reviving projects that were previously put on hold.
The IT jobs market is on the rise with Big Data, Mobile Apps, Cloud Computing and IT Security skills highly prized as companies seek to quickly implement projects in these areas. Front end development, user experience skills and java script are sought after skill sets, together with iOS, Android and cross platform mobile experience - we predict that this will be a big trend as we go through 2014. Experts with skills related to the emergence of ‘Big Data’ include network security, database development and data warehousing can also expect to find a wide range of opportunities available.
Australia’s growing confidence will result in a strong economic performance in 2014, and this will translate into an increase in expenditure on IT projects. Consequently, companies will need to find increasingly scarce IT experts and will find that costs rise in accordance with this demand, particularly for the most niche skills.
• Despite political factors hindering expenditure on IT projects, the markets in Singapore and Australia are very active, and will strengthen further throughout 2014.
• Key trends for 2014 are Mobile Technologies, Cloud Computing, Big Data and IT Security.
• Skilled consultants are in demand, with locals in short supply in Singapore. Opportunities will be plentiful for consultants with a broad range of high end experience, and rates will rise.
• Companies are choosing to work with trusted partners who have international experience, particularly in Singapore. Michael Bailey Associates and partner company Apex are well established players in the Asia Pacific IT market, providing a range of high quality staffing solutions to a diverse range of clients.