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Programmer Crunch In Singapore - "Image" Issue And The Lack Of Good Programmers

A recent report by TODAY Online has been making its round on social media: the report states that smaller firms in Singapore are increasingly finding it difficult to fill out vacancies for programmers.

Here are some of the bite size information taken from the report:

  1. IDA said the rate of growth in demand programmers had been surpassing supply.
  2. IDA estimated that there would be 6,000 programming related positions over the next two years.
  3. Smaller firms are losing out to big multi-nationals who can offer better salary packages to programmers.
  4. To attract programmers, smaller-sized firms have been employing a range of strategies, including developing their own products to give staff a sense of ownership, encouraging more involvement in the creative process, and offering flexible working hours and a less top-down office culture.
  5. A local programmer position could be vacant for as long as six months, or even longer.

Reasons Why It’s Hard To Attract Programmers

Other than demand outpacing supply, and the fact that smaller firms are competing with big MNCs who can offer way better salary packages to programmers, an interesting point made by Net Profit Quest’s Mr Lim caught our attention. He told TODAY that programming jobs had an image problem, and “many still see programming jobs as modern-day blue-collar roles”. He also added that there is “a misconception that programmers cannot advance to managerial roles.”

Digging deeper into the topic of programmer crunch in Singapore, we spoke to a few tech startups in Singapore.

For payments startup Xfers, which recently raised S$2.5Million to make peer to peer payments easier, they are also finding it hard to find and attract good programmers.

” I don’t think it’s just us,” Xfers cofounder Wenbin told Vulcan Post.

“As programmers we aren’t valued as important people and are usually treated as replaceable and sidelined workers rather than valuable assets to the company’s automation of processes,” Wenbin added.

“Also because of the treatment to developers, Singaporeans rather be managers than programmers.”

To solve this problem of getting developers, it was only natural for Xfers to be looking elsewhere for talents.

xfers team

The same goes for dating app company Paktor, which currently has offices in 6 countries. Though based in Singapore, Paktor’s CEO Joseph Phua feels that junior developers in Singapore might lack the experience for startups which needs qualified developers to hit the ground running.

“We always start looking in Singapore first whenever there’s an opening for programmers, and if we can’t find suitable ones, we have to look in other countries to fill our needs,” Joseph told Vulcan Post.

The cost of a Singapore based developer is also much higher.

Paktor team
Paktor team

Another startup founder, Krystal who runs travel app Wander, shares the same sentiment with regards to the programmer crunch in Singapore.

“Startup technologies are relatively new and it takes a self-motivated person to be any good at them, because they aren’t taught in schools here. There are many amazing engineers out there, but not enough to go round in a burgeoning space. You have to win the best over with a product vision that aligns with them personally, a great environment, work that is challenging and exciting and very fair compensation. Sometimes startups can’t do all these things. We can try though. And hopefully those who share your vision join you to help you,” Krystal Choo told Vulcan Post.

wander

According to IDA, currently there are almost 15,000 vacancies waiting to be filled in the tech and IT industry, and this is expected to double by 2017.

So if there are trouble getting tech related talents, would this dampened the country’s aspiration to be a Smart Nation? Unless there’s a way to address the programmer talent crunch problem among the SMEs in Singapore, it’s going to be a slow and long marathon to achieving the Smart Nation aspiration.

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