A survey by Equinix, the global digital infrastructure company, revealed IT leaders in Asia-Pacific have serious concerns about tech experts’ retention and recruitment. Asia will be struggling with a shortage of workers after the pandemic, but Peter Bithos, CEO of job portal operator Seek Asia, said it is not the same as North America’s “Great Resignation.”
Instead, Asia’s workforce has a shortfall of people who possess the skills to fill tech roles in companies, Bithos told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“What we’ve been seeing is a large reconfiguration of the types of talent needed” in the workforce, he said. This is reflected in the increase of tech role listings on Seek’s platforms, which is up 66% year on year,” according to Bithos.
Despite layoffs at tech companies, almost “every sector in the economy outside of tech” is hiring for tech workers, Bithos explained. Tech jobs across Asia remain robust and are “very high in demand,” he added.
According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 63% of IT decision-makers view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. Companies – including Equinix – are looking to widen the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives.
The 2,900 survey respondents acknowledged the speed at which the tech industry is transforming has left companies struggling to find and retain people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges.
In response to skills shortages, many businesses are working hard to reskill human capital from other industries. 69% of Asia-Pacific IT leaders said they reskill workers from similar industries, while 44% are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors. With recent layoffs and furlough schemes driving workers to seek opportunities to level up their skills or careers, tech companies that offer training and development opportunities could be better positioned to attract talent.
The most common sources of reskilled workers are finance and insurance (39%), administration and business support (37%), manufacturing (30%), and those returning to work after a period of absence (30%). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working as IT technicians (46%), cloud computing (40%), and data analysis roles (37%).
In the Asia-Pacific region, there is a relatively prominent tech skill gap for cloud computing specialists (29%), followed by professionals with AI/Machine Learning aptitude (26%) and IT technicians (26%). A higher percentage of IT decision-makers in Asia-Pacific also identify a skills gap in data protection specialists (24%), compared to other regions.
They anticipate that the biggest tech skills gap will lie in AI/Machine Learning (28%) in 2025, followed by cloud computing (26%) and AR/VR (24%). Asia-Pacific IT leaders also consider candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (45%), the changing workforce expectations around ways of working (43%), and the pay and compensation packages for employees (41%) as the top three biggest skill challenges their businesses to face.
“Finding the right skills is a real problem in the tech industry, especially on the software side. The reality is that with the notarization of services, all industries are seeking the same skills,” said Keri Gilder, CEO of Colt Technology Services. “One of the challenges here is a lack of awareness among young talent of the opportunities available within the tech sector.”
A search on job portals JobsDB and JobStreet, which are operated by Seek Asia, showed 57,902 jobs available under the information technology category across six Asian economies: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Applicants for those tech roles are up 14%, which Bithos said could be driven by tech sector layoffs as well as people feeling “confident” enough to seek employment as the pandemic comes to an end.
Laid-off workers still have many jobs available to them, although those roles may not be at a “pure tech” company, Bithos said.