It may be home to some of the world’s smartest cities and fastest growing economies, but Asia today is facing a profound skills shortage predicted to reach up to 12.3 million workers by 2020. With technology progressing at a speed like never before, companies and individuals alike are struggling to keep up with skill sets needed to fill tech job vacancies.
As mobile, big data and cloud continue to impact the modern enterprise, the gaps in the skills required continue to be a significant business constraint towards companies’ growth plans and opportunities. In Singapore alone, over 42,000 workers are needed to support the country’s infocommunications technology (ICT) sector in the next three years. As the baby-boomer generation of developers begin to retire, they take with them their vital programming skills and knowledge of existing systems, leaving a void of programming knowledge amongst the younger developers who are not learning the skills needed, or are too few in numbers.
The call is clear: companies urgently need to plug the gaps or face impediments to their business plans due to the tech manpower shortage. Here are several ways that businesses can bridge the skills gap:
Closing the gap with modern technology
Any company seeking to solve its skills crisis and meet its projected staffing requirements will require a degree of workforce flexibility in its strategy – in the form of upskilled current staff or new hires trained with the requisite skills. In a skills shortage situation, it’s worth remembering that an adequate level of foundational knowledge can help tech employees to adapt to a variety of different job roles and functions.
For example, combining modern technology ecosystems with existing coding languages can help IT developers ease into a new environment. Such a process not only allows organizations to adopt new systems and programs as part of their strategy, but can also increase productivity and minimize downtime.
Technology can play a part in mitigating the challenges organizations have in attracting next generation of talent as well. Solutions such as augmented reality or cloud-based courses provide support for educating or upskilling employees through immersive training sessions. Augmented reality has also been shown to tremendously improve workplace performances. In an environment where resources are tight, finding efficient and innovative ways to retain skills, accelerate training and reduce costs will be key to remaining competitive.
From simplifying application development to modernizing portfolios and platforms, companies need to leverage modern technology to solve the skills crisis as and where it is needed.
Harnessing enthusiasm and talent in STEM from an early age
With the advances in technology and a high number of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workers reaching retirement age, it’s key that governments gear up to build and maintain the future pipeline of skills for the STEM sector.
One solution lies in the early encouragement of children to explore and engage in STEM subjects — well before higher education courses. The government of Singapore has long been an advocate for STEM education, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressing the importance of STEM skills in the country’s development and continued advancement towards a Smart Nation.
Studies have shown that exposure to STEM subjects and career options at a young age can have a drastic effect on a child’s interests and future career choices. Grooming skills and interest from a young age can also aid in scaling up individuals’ technology knowledge, resulting in a better talent pool that is future-ready for jobs in the technology sector.
The key to fixing the tech skills gap
If left unchecked, the skills gap will ultimately affect business success and development — particularly for tech-focused organizations in a rapidly digitizing world. Understanding the skills gap could be the key to unleashing the true potential of the tech industry and pave the way for further innovation.
From the use of AR in upskilling and training programs, to modernizing application platforms and developing a STEM-friendly education environment, the IT skills crisis could very well be a thing of the past if businesses, individuals and governments play their part in solving the tech skills crisis.
This article was first published on Questex, on 11 February 2019. Information is correct at the time of publication.