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Tech talent retention challenges looming in ASEAN

Less than a third of IT professionals in Southeast Asia plan to stay in their current jobs despite earning more this year, study finds

Less than a third of IT professionals in Southeast Asia plan to stay in their current jobs this year, amid the tight market for technology talent in the region, a study has found.

According to the latest Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT salary survey, only 28% of respondents would stay in their current roles, while almost six in 10 are open to new opportunities.

Just 5% are interested in moving to a new role within their organisation, pointing to potential talent retention issues that more companies could face as economies recover from the pandemic.

Conducted every year to track the state of the region’s IT job market, the study also found that the average IT salary across all IT job functions, company sizes and seniorities stood at $59,858. Those in senior IT management are earning more, with an average salary of $110,794.

Notably, IT professionals in the developed city-state of Singapore earned the most, with an average salary of $99,606, followed by those in the larger developing economies of Thailand ($59,460) and Indonesia ($53,128).

Across the region, more than half (53%) received a salary increase and 45% received a bonus. About 70% expect an increase in remuneration next year, but it is unclear if higher compensation is sufficient to retain IT staff who are increasingly prioritising a work-life balance.

More than seven in 10 respondents in ASEAN noted that life priorities and work-life balance have become more important than before, but only four in 10 reported having the freedom to choose where and when they work. Just one in four have the flexibility to adapt their working hours according to their work-life balance.

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Meanwhile, diversity remains a work-in-progress at many ASEAN firms, with just a third addressing age and ethnicity-related issues. About half are tackling gender equality, while just a third of respondents said their organisations are paying women and men with similar qualifications equally.

When it comes to their outlook on women in IT, just 21% of respondents agree that men need to be more involved in helping women integrate in IT departments, and just 20% believe that hiring more women can alleviate the skills shortage.

Technology companies in the region have been doing their part to plug the talent gap through various skills-related initiatives.

Google Cloud, for example, has teamed up with Singapore’s national artificial intelligence programme to build up the country’s talent pool in machine learning and AI.

In addition, Huawei is investing $100m over three years to groom startups in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Part of that investment will be channelled into a developer programme to train 10,000 developers on cloud technologies through hackathons and programmes with universities.

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