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Singaporean organisations face stiff competition for junior IT professionals

Singaporean multinationals are no longer the default employers of talented IT professionals in the Asean region as a vibrant startup community and growth in other countries turns heads

Employers in Singapore can attract senior IT talent with high salaries and the opportunity to work for large multinationals, but it is not so easy to attract the IT professionals of the future.

A combination of a vibrant startup community and opportunities across the wider Asean region are encouraging talented newcomers to the IT profession to look beyond Singapore’s multinationals for careers.

The country can attract the most experienced IT professionals with pay rates far above those offered by organisations in its Asean neigbours.

According to the TechTarget salary survey 2016 Apac, about one-third (30%) of IT professionals in Singapore are paid more than US$100,000 a year, while only 8% earn $25,000 or less. In the Asean region as a whole, 30% receive less than $25,000, while 17% get more than $100,000.

Tan Kah Chye, board member of Singapore-based financial services firm Tin Hill Capital, said Singapore’s large number of multinationals employed a sizeable number of senior IT professionals, but had a shortage of talent at junior levels.

“This is where some of the competition for talent is keenest,” he said. “It is also the category of IT professionals who are young and more able to take risk, and are most likely to want to have a go with their own startups.”

Singapore offers startups a good market in which to operate. The government recently launched a new department that brings IT and media together, with a main thrust of encouraging startups. The core target of the city state’s Infocomm Media 2025 vision is to develop digital technology to support the economy and society.

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Beyond the Singapore startup community, there are also opportunities in the Asean region’s less developed countries. Tan said there were sufficient opportunities in the region to keep IT talent in their respective home countries. 

“More often than not, the domestic economies of people’s home countries are significantly larger than in Singapore,” he said. “Companies in Singapore have the ability to pay higher rates, but salaries are no longer the only reason why professionals move.”

But Tan added that Singapore's comprehensive economic structure, burgeoning digital economy and family-friendly environment were still major attractions for IT talent.

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