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Technologists from the Philippines set to flock to Singapore

Financial institutions in Singapore are looking to ramp up hiring of technologists from Asian countries such as the Philippines to help offset a shortage of local expertise.

The hiring demand is starting to come from digital and traditional banks, consulting companies, and cryptocurrency firms. But big tech firms are leading the way. Facebook and Grab are reportedly planning to hire more Filipino tech professionals to help shore up their Singapore operations, for example.

Singapore has recently streamlined its application process for Employment Passes, although from next year the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) will ensure that firms don’t hire disproportionally from one nationality, so it’s not likely that a particular country in Asia will dominate foreign hiring.

Moreover, financial institutions are only likely to hire from abroad for talent-short roles such as software developers and engineers, digital transformation specialists, business analysts, and data engineers.

For these jobs, candidates based elsewhere in Asia are required to relocate to Singapore, says Joel Azariah, principal consultant at TENTEN Partners. Although it would be cheaper to employ these tech workers remotely in their home countries, the current ethos in the finance sector is to spend more on product development through agile processes that emphasises team-based collaboration and physical relationships.

By contrast, low-value services such as tech support will continue to be offshored to low-cost centres.

“Relationships are not built remotely,” says Azariah, referring to the need for high-end technologists to work physically from Singapore. “Part of it is to be on the ground and working with the team and internal stakeholders.”

Technology workers from the Philippines are considered a good fit with Singapore’s working culture because of their native English-language skills and the large number of professional Filipinos currently employed in the city state, estimated at 116,000.

Aside from the Philippines, Azariah says his firm has also been active in recruiting technologists from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Hong Kong.

He praises Singapore’s government for its ability to adjust employment and visa programmes to meet industry needs during the ongoing tech boom. “They are proactive about addressing talent shortages, especially in technology because they understand tech will drive the future of the economy, so it makes sense to have the best technologists here in Singapore to enable companies to grow,” says Azariah.

Photo by Sreehari Devadas on Unsplash

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