In the last few years, the most sought-after technology roles in Southeast Asia have been cybersecurity analysts, technology risk managers, data scientists, project managers, and software developers.
While most of these roles are still in demand, according to a LinkedIn report, there are now permanent changes to the jobs landscape in the region due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. The uptick in the adoption of digital services, and the growing focus on health tech and education tech has affected which IT jobs are in demand.
Where the IT jobs demand is shifting
As a result, the LinkedIn report highlights three tech job areas (as opposed to roles) that are in high demand: data analysis, software and technology, and cybersecurity.
According to Robert Half’s Salary Guide 2021 for APAC, the top three in-demand permanent roles are devops engineer, cybersecurity consultant, and infrastructure engineer (cloud and network). In Robert Half’s guide. the data analyst job is in demand but more as a contract role.
The LinkedIn report, which focuses specifically on Southeast Asia and not the entire APAC region, puts the demand for data analysts among the most-sought-after roles in the region, driven by the rapid adoption of technology that has allowed companies to collect large amounts of data for potential business benefits, which in turn has led to a surge in the demand in roles for processing, analysing, and storing data.
In software and technology, the LinkedIn report says that “there is a continued demand for specialised engineering roles — from professionals who develop and adapt new software solutions to those who build websites”.
The third area of skills demand is cybersecurity roles as both government and private enterprise have been heavily investing in securing data.
As organisations in the region have been embracing technologies such as cloud computing, edge computing, 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and internet of things, there is also a burgeoning demand for talent in these areas.
Zubin Shroff, CEO of executive search firm Nirvighna, told CIO ASEAN that the demand for skilled professionals in areas such as data science and cloud security is heating up. There is also demand for roles in the legacy domains, as organisations shifting from legacy infrastructure to the cloud. This includes those skilled as application technologists and consultants with SAP and Salesforce, and with ERP and CRM systems in general.
There scarcity of talent is magnified as governments are under pressure not to import talent. “It means that markets like Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Southeast Asia are going to see a huge shortfall in the number of people required in some of these skills,” he said.
The five most in-demand IT roles in Southeast Asia
Based on CIO ASEAN’s interviews with recruiters and on data from LinkedInand Robert Half, we have identified these five IT roles as the most in-demand in Southeast Asia.
Salary range: S$72,000 to S$168,000
Why the role is in demand: Robert Half says data expertise is highly sought-after as companies reimagine their business processes. For this, they are increasingly relying on data to identify ways to eliminate inefficiencies while using data visualisation tools for reporting and planning purposes. Using statistics and modelling techniques, data helps unlock the value of complex, unprocessed data from an array of sources such as machine log data, digital media and documents, databases, the web, and social media channels.
The in-demand roles include business operations analyst, business development analyst, and data analyst.
Technical skills required: Data analysis, data visualization, analytical skills, database programming language SQL, requirements analysis, and effective communications.
Salary range: S$120,000 to S$220,000
Why the role is in demand: As most organisations in Southeast Asia move to the cloud, there is an ongoing demand for cloud architects. According to Robert Half, this role can also be called infrastructure engineer (cloud and network) and can encompass roles of cloud engineer and cloud migration expert. According to executive recruiter Shroff, cloud migration experts are also known as the “lift and shift” guys.
Responsibilities of cloud architects include leading overall cultural change for cloud adoption, as well as developing and coordinating cloud architecture. They drive or implement cloud application designs, cloud approval plans, and management of systems required to manage cloud storage. They also estimate cloud infrastructure costs and meet budgets, as well as need to be able to communicate effectively.
Technical skills required: Java, Python or C#, networking, data storage fundamentals, security foundations, and cloud-specific patterns and technologies.
Salary range: S$90,000 to S$180,000
Why the role is in demand: When companies need to release new software and software updates at an ever faster speed, they need devops engineers. Their basic responsibility is to maximise collaboration between software development and IT operations. A devops engineer coordinates with the development team to handle the necessary coding and scripting to connect various application elements. These include APIs, libraries, and software development kits (SDKs).
Technical skills required: Linux and Windows fundamentals and scripting, various devops tools and technologies, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), and infrastructure as code.
Salary range: S$90,000 to S$150,000
Why the role is in demand: As cyberattacks are becoming highly sophisticated and widespread, the importance of this role has become business-critical. This role has become even more important in the post-COVID 19 “new normal” where working from home has increased the security footprint for organisations.
Robert Half says the responsibilities of a cybersecurity consultant include conducting information security management reviews and information security management system assessments, as well as ensuring that technical implementation and business processes are aligned. Besides project management, they also lead the design, implementation, operation, and maintenance security management systems. They participate in the creation, review, and update of information security policies. They are expected to provide complex technical advice, recommendations, and consultancy on networks, infrastructure, products, and services supplied.
Technical skills required: Penetration testing, information security, security information and event management (SIEM), cybersecurity, information security management, IT risk management, ability to align information security policies with business requirements, ability to translate information security requirements into IT security controls and measures, project management, and effective communications.
Salary range: S$90,000 to S$180,000
Why the role is in demand: This wide-ranging term includes the roles of web developer, system analyst, mobile application developer, full-stack engineer, and front-end developer, all of whom according to Robert Half “can leverage their knowledge of computer science, analysis, and programming to create software that meets the needs of business and the expectations of today’s consumers.” A software engineer addresses the entire software development life cycle, from analysing the user requirements to designing, testing, and developing software itself.