Despite layoffs, there’s still a talent crunch in Southeast Asia

Tech layoffs have hit almost every region in the world, and Southeast Asia is no exception, with companies like Sea, and JD.ID among those affected. In particular, fintech startups — BNPL, credit and lending, and inventory-holding businesses — are vulnerable, like in other parts of the world.

Glints, one of Southeast Asia’s largest jobs platforms with over 30,000 active job listings per month and 40,000 employers, recently issued a report that shows the situation may not be so dour (even though it probably doesn’t feel that way to someone who just got laid off). There still exists a tech talent crunch, even in Singapore, where most layoffs and hiring freezes have happened because it’s regional headquarters for many international businesses and a startup hub.

“It’s a correction in general. I think what we have seen is that there has been a lot of capital being pumped into the tech industry over the past two to three years in a major bull run. With that, we had a lot of companies that have also expanded rapidly,” said Glints co-founder and CEO Oswald Yeo told TechCrunch.

“Singapore companies seem to be responding the most quickly to the changes in the macroeconomic environment,” he added, “Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because for some of these changes, you want to move quickly.”

Teams that have been hit hardest include operations, financial and human resource departments, plus some sales and marketing teams.

A lot of new hiring will happen remotely, with companies turning to Vietnam and Indonesia, which have both seen fewer layoffs, for top tech talent. This is fueled in part by the willingness for a decentralized workforce created by the pandemic.

“Together with the cost saving measures because on the one hand, comfort in remote hiring has increased because of the pandemic,” Yeo said. “Then on the other end, there is this need to save costs. So from both a human capital angle and a financial capital angle, a lot of companies are now actually doing more remote hiring. On Glints, for example, we see remote job opportunities has grown by 10 times over the past year.”

In Malaysia, regional companies still hire cross-border, but local companies have shifted back to local hiring. Glints said they do not expect mid- to senior-compensation to drop from current levels, but junior talent compensation might be affected.

Another new trends is fixed-term, usually one year, contracts, that allow companies to better predict their financial outlook. “Employers are more cautious of committing themselves to permanent contracts with employers,” said Yeo.

“It’s not all doom and gloom in two ways, and there are still positives,” Yeo said. For example, he said there is still disproportionate demand for technology and product talent on Glints, with the ratio in job seekers’ favor.

Layoffs also give startups a chance to build their core teams.

“For companies who are in good position and can afford it, it’s actually a great time to strengthen the bench, shape the management bench and the leadership bench with top management talent because there’s now a little bit less competition for talent.”