Despite mass layoffs at tech firms — from Meta and Twitter to Amazon and Shopee — professionals are nonetheless still in demand as companies of all stripes look to develop digital capabilities.
Hotspots of business activity and recruitment remain even as parts of the tech industry cool amid rising inflation and interest rates as well as the changing post-pandemic landscape, Channel News Asia on Wednesday cited analysts as saying.
At Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), one of the largest local banks in Singapore, some technology teams have doubled in size over the past two years, such as those in blockchain, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.
New hires came from a mix of backgrounds, including banks, tech companies, start-ups, and the government sector, said Praveen Raina, head of group operations and technology at OCBC.
The bank announced in March that it was hiring 1,500 people in tech roles over the next three years in positions such as application developers, cyber-security experts, blockchain specialists, and data scientists.
United Overseas Bank (UOB), also a leading local bank, plans to hire more than 2,700 people this year, of which 500 are in technology and data roles, said Dean Tong, head of group human resources.
The bank is “more than halfway towards this goal” and building competencies in positions like programme and project managers, business and system analysts, technology development managers, domain-related architects, and test engineers, he added.
DBS, the Singapore-headquartered bank with a fast-expanding Southeast Asian and Indian network, said it also continues to hire for critical roles in fields like data, AI, and machine learning, as well as site reliability engineering, blockchain, and cloud.
“(But) The days of just hiring left, right and center, in fear of losing out on talent, will probably come to a stop for a while,” said Assistant Professor Ng Weiyi of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School.
Among those employers likely to become more “fiscally prudent” are fintech start-ups that have been highly reliant on venture capital and private equity for funding, he said.
Competition has also intensified with the increased supply of job seekers after several high-profile layoffs that impacted the Singapore tech sector.
Facebook parent Meta, which terminated more than 11,000 employees worldwide, laid off dozens of employees in Singapore in departments ranging from marketing to engineering.
Twitter slashed half its global workforce, or around 3,700 employees, though it is not known how many in Singapore were affected.
E-commerce giant Amazon is planning to lay off 10,000 employees.
Singapore-based online marketplace Shopee has held three rounds of retrenchments since June this year, which included staff in its food delivery and online payment teams.
The larger pool of tech talent available for hire now will give companies leverage to dictate the terms of employment, which means they could end up paying employees less, said Assistant Professor Ng.
But outside the start-up world, companies that have traditionally not been regarded as tech firms, such as banks, are seeking to deepen their digital capabilities. The layoffs in tech could be a boon for them, and also present new opportunities to tech job seekers.
“There’s a potential mobility shift for companies that want to reinvent themselves to pursue the top tech talent that would otherwise not be available,” the Channel quoted Asst Prof Ng as saying.
“Now you are seeing an opportunity to recruit top tech talent that has otherwise been lured away by the very juicy compensation packages that were offered by the venture-backed companies.” Yorlin Ng, COO of venture outfit Momentum Works, said this was the silver lining of the Big Tech layoffs for non-tech companies and start-ups that want to innovate and are now able to grab hold of tech talent.
“A few founder-friends of ours already find it easier to hire talent recently,” she said.
“I believe there will be a boom in tech again – perhaps very soon. The landscape might be different from what we are familiar with now though.” Ng highlighted that the layoffs in tech have not been uniform, and depended on the longer-term strategies of specific companies.
“For example, a few large tech companies are keeping their business development team to continue to manage clients, whilst some large tech companies which have cut ‘non-core’ functions still keep strategic tech teams (such as AI) so that they will remain competitive after the current crisis.” PTI