Singapore has heavily invested in digitalisation over the last few years, to more than modest success. Over the last five years, the country’s digital economy almost doubled its contribution to the gross domestic product, totalling US$77.7 billion in 2022.

To drive this national agenda forward, the Digital Government Blueprint serves both to digitalise government services, and also to act as a catalyst for the broader tech ecosystem. The programme has propelled Singapore to the forefront as a regional hub, with the country attracting the most tech funding in Southeast Asia in the first half of 2023 at US$685 million.

Due to the sector’s profound growth, the demand for skilled tech talent, particularly in cybersecurity, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to intensify in 2024.

This article will delve into Randstad Singapore’s 2024 market and salary outlook report which includes key labour trends and employer insights on salaries, bonuses, hiring trends and talent expectations in the tech sector. Download the full report to gain valuable insights for your talent attraction and workforce planning strategy in 2024.

singapore is investing in the tech sector
singapore is investing in the tech sector

how singapore is managing the tech talent crunch

Due to the global challenge of securing skilled and experienced talent in technology, the government has worked hard to make it easier to attract foreign talent. Singapore introduced a new Overseas Networks & Expertise (ONE) Pass to attract top talent at the end of 2022, and we saw many businesses take advantage of this to expand their capabilities in areas such as cybersecurity and data.

However, that growth has not been spread evenly. The ONE pass has proven popular with multinational corporations who can afford the costs, as individuals must earn a minimum monthly salary of S$30,000 to be eligible, and hiring has generally continued in other categories of workers too.

Startups on the other hand are faced with significantly higher costs of capital and declining enthusiasm among venture capital for tech investments, with funding rounds exceeding US$100 million down 69% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

We see smaller companies, particularly those that are still in their development phase, being much more conservative in their hiring practices as they manage their capital carefully to prioritise commercialisation.

increasing demand for contract workers

We saw a more cautious approach to hiring in 2023 as a cooling economy dampened some of the enthusiasm witnessed a year earlier. While there may be a modest uptick in 2024, we expect that caution to largely continue, and we see many new roles requiring sign-offs at a higher level than was needed in the recent past due to budget constraints.

However, businesses still have critical projects which need to be delivered, which in turn require talent. We’re seeing some companies square this circle by bringing in workers on a contract basis. There was a notable increase in 2023, whether through hiring on short-term contracts, or outsourcing staffing to third parties, and we expect this demand for tech talent contracting services to continue into 2024.

talent trends in digital assets

In 2022 there was a steady stream of tech workers leaving the banking sector to join crypto and fintech companies, often in exchange for large increments.

Since then we’ve seen the collapse of FTX and closer to home, we saw the bankruptcy of Singapore-based crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.

The Singapore government has not given up on its reasonably welcoming approach to crypto companies, with the Monetary Authority of Singapore publishing digital currency guidelines that set out the required tech infrastructure in November 2023.

Nevertheless the crypto winter has obviously had an impact on jobs, with Singapore topping one list of major cities for crypto layoffs, with 3,719 for the period between February 2022 and February 2023.

As businesses continue to partner with Web3 firms, particularly in the area of payments, Singapore is especially conservative about introducing blockchain and digital assets for mainstream use, choosing to prioritise consumer safety. Just in November 2023, the government announced that individuals would not be able to use credit lines to buy volatile digital assets.

However, given blockchain’s vast potential for more secure, transparent and traceable transactions across industries, Singapore continues to invest in digital assets, albeit with a tight regulatory rein. Most recently, Grab and payment firm Circle partnered to test a new Web3 wallet, while Apple’s biggest reseller iStudio began accepting in-store crypto payments.

These initiatives signal a progressive approach to fostering innovation and adapting to the rapidly changing dynamics of the global financial ecosystem.

Despite the allure of these exciting and undiscovered opportunities, many IT professionals with finance domains are moving from crypto and digital assets firms back into the traditional banking sector, with stability becoming an increasingly important factor in candidates’ decision-making.

That makes it more difficult for startups to attract top talent, with candidates wanting more information on business plans and runways, whereas in the past a 30% or 40% increment was generally enough for people to jump.

singapore invests in digital assets
singapore invests in digital assets

the value of cybersecurity talent

Similar to every other country, Singapore is investing heavily in cybersecurity. Data breaches are on the rise in line with the increasing number of digital user and consumer touchpoints, and the reputational and financial penalties can be severe.

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) plans to spend S$50 million over three years to grow the sector, in part by ensuring the industry has the talent it needs. The CSA launched the SG Cyber Associates scheme to provide 10,000 training spaces for non-cybersecurity professionals to learn new skills, and has partnered with NUS on a new S$20 million NUS-CSA CyberSG Talent, Innovation and Growth (TIG) Collaboration Centre.

The challenge for companies is the sheer shortage of cybersecurity talent. These government programmes announced in 2023 enable talent from other parts of the IT sector to learn new skills and transition to cybersecurity, and have the potential to help alleviate those problems.

As re-skilling takes time, companies will have to leverage important differentiators to attract scarce cybersecurity talent in the short term, such as offering the flexible working benefits or highly competitive pay packages they desire.

ai’s limited impact – for now

With the hype around AI in 2023, we’ve certainly seen some uptake in industries such as e-commerce and financial services. The industry has adopted chatbots to improve customer experience and AI-based platforms to analyse data and generate more accurate and timely reporting.

In 2022, the government created the AI tool NovA! to help financial institutions assess the sustainability performance of real estate companies. More recently, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) set up the consortium Project MindForge, which will explore industry applications of GenAI for the financial industry.

Within the private sector, big tech players such as Cisco, SEA and SAP have established AI hubs in Singapore, driving research and development in areas such as sustainability, cybersecurity and urban infrastructure. This is likely where we will see more job opportunities and growth, until more businesses establish the commercial value of adopting AI.

Despite all these developments, most businesses are still trying to conceptualise where and how AI can add value to their organisations - whether it’s to reduce costs, generate revenue or both. According to Adobe’s Future of Digital Experience report, many Singapore companies are not formally using generative AI (GenAI) on a business-wide scale, lagging behind consumers and the workforce.

The companies that are integrating AI face a shortage of tech talent. Where we have seen success is businesses who have hired one or two AI specialists who will then lead learning and development programmes internally to ensure their skills are transferred to other staff to build and expand internal capabilities.

This approach towards workforce upskilling has proven successful when companies adopted blockchain technology, so we can expect an increased demand for internal training schemes for AI, attracting and retaining staff who seek the opportunity to acquire these new skills.

continued growth of big data in singapore

Though big data is not new, a rather recent development is the rise of the Chief Data Officer. We’re increasingly seeing companies create senior positions to take an organisation-wide view of data and use it to influence decisions across divisions from products to customer experience.

Technical skills remain important, but companies increasingly need tech professionals who also have soft skills and are able to use information to influence stakeholders across the organisation. Candidates who can communicate data effectively are especially high in demand.

2024 technology talent trends

We expect an increase in hiring in 2024. Contract workers in particular are likely to see greater demand as companies need staff to work on critical projects, but aren’t planning to take on additional headcount on a permanent basis.

We expect salary trends to be broadly in line with 2023, with those switching employers getting an increment of around 10% to 20%. Key employees remaining with their current company can expect up to 10%, with those in less critical positions attracting a little less.

Given the uncertainty of the past year or so, with even large tech companies making large numbers of redundancies, candidates are prizing stability more highly. Companies that can demonstrate sound fundamentals, as well as the opportunity for talent to learn new skills, will find it easier to convince people to switch employers.

This has the potential to benefit employers since those who do join are more likely to have done their due diligence rather than just following a larger pay cheque, so being transparent about business plans and fundamentals during the interview process may improve talent retention by attracting more committed candidates.

the most in-demand technology roles in 2024

These are the top 5 most in-demand careers in technology in 2024:

  • Software development
  • Engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data scientists, especially those who can help use data to influence business decisions
  • Specialists with cloud migration experience
most-in demand tech jobs in singapore
most-in demand tech jobs in singapore

download singapore’s technology industry and salary trends 2024.

The 2024 Randstad Talent and Salary Outlook report looks at talent analyses, key trends and new salary benchmarks in the following industries:

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