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Developers, Skill Upgrade Programs, Boost Asia Pacific Tech Jobs Outlook

By Ron Schneiderman

Article taken from the IEEE Job Site/August 2016 © Copyright 2016 IEEE.

There are still plenty of tech jobs in the Asia Pacific region (EEs, software engineers, computer engineers and scientists, IT specialists), but it’s almost a buyer’s market for software developers as companies struggle to keep pace with growing opportunities in mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and cybersecurity.

The Asia Pacific is expected to lead developer population globally for the next several years, with India projected to reach four million in 2018. “We’re seeing how in the space of a year, the possibilities introduced by the Internet of Things has attracted many developers,” says Michael Rasalan, director of research for Evans Data Corp., which provides information technology (IT) market intelligence based on surveys. “This transition to IoT, while not without barriers, is rapid, because developers are able to leverage existing knowledge and expertise in complementary technologies like cloud and mobile, to create entirely new use cases. We’re also seeing developers branch out from concepts on wearables to applications for more complex tasks, seen in the industrial space.”

Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Emtec, Apple, Wipro Technologies, and Target are just a few of the companies seeking developers in India, but job requirements are strict, requiring a Bachelor or Master’s degree in computer science or electronics, and at least five years of experience in specific applications and in design, development, and test. A background in product development is a plus.

According to Evans, the number of developers currently working on IoT applications has increased 34 percent since last year to just over 6.2 million today, and the increase of development for mobile devices, up 14 percent since last year, has led to smartphones being the most commonly connected IoT platform. Rasalan says, “Most developers target multiple mobile platforms, so secondary platform targets differ and often include competing platforms. When we look at initial targets by region, 2.2 million developers target Android first in the Asia Pacific region versus just over 500,000 for iOS.” He says the numbers are reversed in North America.

Growth in India and China is predicted to keep the Asia Pacific developer population the highest globally for the next few years.

SKILL BOOSTERS

The current mismatch and shortage of engineering talent in the region has resulted in more companies creating programs aimed at upgrading the skills of engineers and related tech disciplines.

The India Skills Report 2016 projects a 20 percent jump in hiring activity in telecommunications and allied services, with a gain of 100,000 jobs in the next three years. However, the report, a joint initiative of PeopleStrong, Wheebox, CII, LinkedIn, and the Association of Indian University, suggests the “employability” of these engineers remains a challenge and the increase in the need for engineers means that the time for making engineers “job ready” has been reduced.

Google has been very aggressive in recruiting developers; it plans to train two million developers in India for its Android platform. Google’s plan is to connect with about 2,000 universities, and train about 4,000 faculty staff to reach more than 250,000 students in these universities every year. (Apple announced in May that it would open a development accelerator in Bangalore, India’s technology hub, to support iOS app developers.)

Rohde & Schwarz says it plans to “skill up” its tech talent in its new building in Changi Business Park in Singapore, which will serve as a global hub for research and development and production of its test instruments.

Cambridge, UK-based ARM Holdings, which recently announced that it was being acquired by the Japanese electronics giant, Softbank Group, has signed agreements with the Global University Program Alliance in China, Rockchip, a China-based IC design company, and Atmel, a subsidiary of Microchip that gives ARM active involvement in China’s national university and college curriculum reform.

Wayne Wu, general manager, Atmel Shanghai, says the program is designed to increase student enrollment and “foster their future career development and create a new pool of talent for our industry.”

Under the terms of its acquisition, Softbank says it plans to at least double ARM’s employee headcount in the UK and increase the headcount outside the UK over the next five years. ARM recently listed more than 200 openings for tech professionals globally, including in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Taipei.

Google recently listed 55 job openings across the Asia Pacific, mostly for software engineers to test, field deployment, network, and systems engineers. Singapore is a key hiring target for young engineers for Google, which says it is looking for “talented students” from Singapore to join its 12 week engineering internship program, which takes place in Australia. Google says it would also welcome engineers from across the world with deep ties to Singapore who want to come home.

When Oracle said earlier this year that it had 2,000 job openings in India, it also announced plans to train more than 5,000 Indian students every year to staff its nine regional software and technology incubation centers across the country.

Last year, Microsoft established the IoT Industry Development Center with Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs to accelerate IoT development. Since then, Microsoft has created a certification program to assist Taiwan device manufacturers become Microsoft Azure Certified.

HTC Corp. is also inviting selected start-ups from around Asia to apply for a program called Vive X to further the developments in virtual reality (VR) technology. HTC, which says it will share its expertise in VR and its technology with the start-ups, has invested $100 million in the program.

A new research report, Economic Survey of Korea, published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, seems to recognize a similar issue. The report’s bottom line analysis: “Strengthening the R&D links between academia, business, and government are required” if the country is to sustain its labor force.

Both IBM and SAP are also advancing their programs to train university students in India. Dell has opened its first dedicated IoT lab in Singapore to serve the Asia Pacific region, and is recruiting (mostly software development and systems engineers) in Shanghai, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, and Australia. The new IoT facility was launched in collaboration with Intel. Cisco Systems recently listed 273 job openings for software engineers, almost 100 of them for Bangalore, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Other Cisco openings in the Asia Pacific call for specialists in IoT, Big Data/analytics, Cloud, and IT.

Linear Technology Corp. has opened its third semiconductor test facility in Singapore, its headquarters location in Asia, and plans to expand its technical staff in the new operation.

DIGITAL INDIA

In an effort to retain its technical talent, Infosys has developed a program called Compass, which allows current Infosys employees to explore new job opportunities within Infosys rather than look outside the company for a job change. Infosys says the announcement of the program and a registration site resulted in more than 6,000 requests from employees in three hours.

Initially, Compass was made available only for all Infosys employees in India, but Infosys plans a phased rollout of program for the entire company. Similarly, Wipro recently said it would promote 5,600 of its top performing employees and that it has created a new employee appraisal system called Performance Next, designed to give employees regular feedback on their performance.

Another upside development in India is that the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT), whose members include Intel, Microsoft, and Lenovo, believes the IT hardware sector could create 400,000 jobs over the next five years if estimated demand reaches 30 million PCs annually entirely through domestic production over that period.

The MAIT study estimates 300,000 of the jobs will be in component manufacturing over the five years. To make that happen, however, the MAIT study suggests that India’s differential tax duty structure introduced in 2015 for mobile phones and tablets be extended to desktop personal computers and notebooks to encourage domestic manufacturing of IT products. MAIT has been pushing for policy reforms, including an exemption from an excise duty for parts, components, and sub-assemblies that go into the manufacturing of PCs.

On the downside, India’s vaunted startup community is now fighting a funding crunch that seems to be having an impact on hiring and retaining tech talent. Some startups have cut their technical staffs while others have withdrawn job offers made to students at the Indian Institutes of Technology in Delhi, Mumbai, Roorkee, and Guwahati. Pay hikes are also down among startups, as are job offers to executives from outside India.

IMBALANCE IN CYBER JOBS AND SKILLS

Globally, many companies and government agencies are competing aggressively for cybersecurity specialists. “With more threats comes more jobs,” says Barclay Simpson, a corporate recruitment consultancy. “The increase of cyber security risks has led to a thriving job market,” the London-based company says in a new report.

India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), working with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), launched the NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force last year to develop a skilled workforce to build and promote India as a global hub for security services and solutions. Since then, NASSCOM has projected employment opportunities in India in this sector at about a million technical professionals by 2025.

To help fill those slots, NASSCOM, working with the DSCI and the security software firm Symantec, launched National Occupational Standards, a program aimed at creating a pool of certified cybersecurity professionals in the country. It covers 10 cybersecurity job specialties. Symantec also is offering scholarships to 1,000 women seeking cybersecurity certification by SSC NASSCOM.

Singapore Telecommunications Limited is taking similar steps to enhance the cyber skills and preparedness of businesses and governments in the Asia Pacific by creating the Singel Cyber Security Institute.

Bill Chang, chief executive officer for group enterprises at Singel, says that based on his research, more than 85 percent of the companies in Singapore do not have robust cyber response plans, and have not created the opportunity to conduct realistic drills to test such plans. “This is why we’ve stepped up to the plate.” Under the program, Singel will train new IT professionals in basic cybersecurity skills, and work with experienced cybersecurity professionals to enhance their skills.

Accenture, a global professional services company, has opened its own cybersecurity center in Bangalore. Bill Phelps, managing director and security lead for Accenture Operations, says there’s a demand for “elite talent” in cybersecurity globally, particularly in the commercial sector.

He says the plan is to offer a broad range of cyber defense services, providing “access to scarce security capability” through its teams of security and industry specialists as well as university and ecosystem alliance partners. The new Cyber Defense Platform will be a cloud-based as-a-service security platform. Phelps says, “Clients need to work with partners whose skills are vast enough and integrated enough to handle more frequent, complex and severe cyber threats.”

AUSTRALIA NEEDS SKILLS

Boosting engineering and IT skills has become a key government mission in Australia, and it’s being led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Like many other areas of the region, Australia is coming up short in recruiting the skills it sorely needs to move the economy forward. At last count, 75 percent of Australia’s fastest growing industries require engineering and science-related skills. Software engineers top the list of the country’s tech skill requirements. Australia’s Department of Employment has projected 14,600 new job openings in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry for software and applications programmers will from 2014 to 2019. Universities are not able to keep up with meeting the demand for these jobs slots in the country, essentially forcing company’s and other organizations to augment their engineering staffs from around the globe.

Employment of telecommunications engineers in Australia is expected to grow strongly, but with only about 10,400 telecommunications engineers in the country, opportunities are limited in some areas. The same is true of computer network engineers, which, at 24,300, represents one of the largest populations of technical professionals in the country.

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