Randstad: Shortage of skilled talents hamper growth of IT, fintech in Malaysia
By Tan Jee Yee February 13, 2020
- In 2020, we’ll see more tech experts with the intention to leave current employers
- Cybersecurity, AI will be talent areas fintech and banktech are searching for
Shortage of skilled talent is always a bummer. It’s also the most persisting problem with the IT industry in Malaysia, and will hamper the growth of fintech and banktech in the country, according to recruitment agency Randstad.
In their 2020 Outlook and Salary Snapshot for both the IT industry and fintech/banktech, Randstad notes that skilled talents remain in shortage despite an increase in hiring appetite.
“Technology has made many rapid advancements in the past decade, but many workers are still playing catchup in acquiring new skills. Within the tech ecosystem, organisations, employees and the government should recognise that upskilling is a shared responsibility, and that everyone has a part to play in developing and elevating the skills of the workforce,” the report on the IT industry emphasises.
In the fintech and banktech sector, the lack of skilled workforce is stalling growth. This is despite the potential for Malaysia to reap the benefits of global companies choosing to offshore their shared services.
“Fintechs and banktechs are racing neck-to-neck to build tech teams and enhance their workforce capabilities to meet business demands. Companies which do not have the right skilled talent could run the risk of losing out on new business opportunities that could propel their growth,” the report states.
On the IT industry
Randstad notes that tech companies are expected to play a bigger role in closing the skills gap.
“This can be done through on-the-job training programmes and mentorship, participating in community networks and tech conferences as well as proactively signing their employees up for hackathons and webinars,” the report suggests.
They also recommend that employers select candidates based on their learning potential rather than wait for those with the perfect skills-match. Gaps can be filled after employment through training programs. Additionally, companies should also hire candidates “whose vision and working style are closely aligned with the company’s culture.”
A candidate-short IT industry would mean that top talent will receive multiple job offers. Randstad expects that, with more companies choosing to expand in Malaysia and creating more jobs, candidates’ intention to switch employers will be significantly higher in 2020.
The report also says that tech experts are attracted to companies offering them the autonomy of their own projects, as it allows them the flexibility to explore new and efficient ways of doing things.
“Tech professionals also value a highly conducive and creative work environment, which is why offices with ‘Silicon Valley vibes’, such as dress-down days as well as colourful and collaborative spaces, appeal strongly to tech talent.”
Randstad states that experienced tech professionals in the applications space may see a 20% to 25% salary hike when they change employers. Those in infrastructure may receive a salary increment of 15% when moving jobs.
Smaller SMEs and startups, however, may deviate from traditional remuneration methods. “They are willing to pay for the perceived value that the talent is able to bring to the company, plus equity for those in senior executive positions to reflect their added responsibilities and experience gained from their past employments. Employers looking to secure high-performing tech talent should also consider offering onboarding and contractual bonuses,” the report concludes.
When it comes to fintech and banktech, Randstad’s report points out that an area with exceptionally high talent demand is cybersecurity. Citing Frost & Sullivan reports, the potential economic loss from cyberthreats can be estimated at a hefty US$12.2 billion (RM50.4 billion), which is more than 4% of the total GDP (US$296 billion).
“Professionals who have prior experience in cybersecurity, either from agencies or with portfolios in banks and FIs, will be highly in demand in 2020,” the report continues.
It adds that fintech firms and banktech teams are focused on building their capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI), as well as robotics process automation (RPA). According to a Forrester report, the global RPA market will increase to US$2.9 billion (RM11.9 billion) by 2021, from US$250 million in 2016 (a 1,160% jump).
As per the report: “Experts equipped with niche skills in new technologies such as ML/AL and RPA will be highly sought-after. In particular, talent experienced in programming languages like Python will see strong demand. While enterprise Java applications and other programming languages like GoLang are popular, employers are placing a higher priority on Python as the foundation skill for tech talent.”
Randstad says that the industry needs to find talent with transferable skills. “Employers in fintech and banktech would need to keep an open mind when considering candidates from other sectors such as technology or e-commerce as they not only may not have the relevant product knowledge, but their customer profiles would also tend to differ largely.
“Instead, these candidates can bring with them an outside-in perspective and introduce new ideas on driving efficiency and change to both secure and retain customers,” explains the report.
The recruitment agency notes that while salary remains a highly attractive factor in both acquiring and retaining talent, employee benefits have also become increasingly important to the local workforce. “Fintechs are known for their agility and flexible work culture. In addition to its non-bureaucratic structures, employees will also get to work from home and enjoy flexi-benefits.”
It also points out that talent in this space value opportunities to upskill themselves, either through on-the-job training or via networking events. “The younger generation is eager to add value and contribute to business goals, and will look for employers that can help elevate their skills and expand their knowledge. Onboarding and training programmes to help fresh graduates transit from school to the working environment are also highly-valued.”