NTUC survey shows 7 in 10 employers willing to hire inexperienced coders

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
Office workers walking around Raffles Place in Singapore, illustrating a story on an NTUC survey showing employers increasingly willing to hire inexperienced coders.
NTUC survey says 67 per cent of business leaders are either "very open" or "open" to hiring candidates who may not have a relevant degree, but have had training in coding. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A survey by NTUC Learning Hub has found that some seven in 10 employers are willing to hire inexperienced coders amid an industry shortage of qualified workers.

The Industry Insights Report 2022 on coding, based on a survey of 200 business leaders across industries in Singapore, also found that nearly nine in 10 – or 89 per cent – of employers, felt there was a shortage of talent with the requisite coding skills to a “large”, or to “some” extent. This is partly because the pace of technology is outpacing supply, the report added.

“As companies automate their work processes and become increasingly reliant on technology, employees need to upskill themselves to remain relevant and to boost their employability with coding skills,” the report stated.

The top three reasons for the tech talent shortage given by the respondents were difficulty in finding talent with requisite skills, new technologies outpacing supply of workers with the right skills, and fierce competition among companies.

The rising shortage of tech talent is not a new problem, with reportedly 19,000 tech roles unfulfilled in software engineering and development, cybersecurity, innovation-oriented roles in product development and the like, according to a speech by Ministry of Communications and Information's then-Minister of State Tan Kiat How in the Committee of Supply debate in March.

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The limited pool of employees resulted in fierce competition among firms for potential candidates, and in firms accepting candidates without the right academic qualifications.

Some form of coding training

Around 67 per cent of business leaders surveyed are either "very open" or "open" to hiring candidates who may not have the relevant education degree, but have undergone skills training in coding. Similarly, around 65 per cent of those surveyed are either "very open" or "open" to hiring candidates who lack relevant job experience but have undergone skills training in coding.

On why coding skills were so important, around 62 per cent of the respondents feel that coding skills will help employees stay relevant in an increasingly digital and automated job market, with other employers believing that having coding skills will enhance the performance of employees or increase their career prospects.

"Despite the shortage of tech talent, many business leaders are optimistic about the growth of technology-related job roles in the Singapore market, including the expansion of tech-heavy roles within their organisation," the report said.

Around 83 per cent believe that their organisation will have an increase in tech-heavy roles in their firms within the next two years.

Which programming language comes up tops?

Respondents also ranked the top five "tech-lite" job roles requiring basic coding skills, and the top five "tech-heavy" job roles which require advanced coding skills.

The top five tech-lite job roles requiring basic coding skills (PHOTO: NTUC learning Hub)
Industry Insights 2022 report on Coding (PHOTO: NTUC learning Hub)
The top five tech-heavy job roles requiring advanced coding skills (PHOTO: NTUC learning Hub)
Industry Insights 2022 report on Coding (PHOTO: NTUC learning Hub)

Around 73 per cent and 74 per cent of respondents said they are looking to hire staff in tech-lite and tech-heavy roles respectively within the next two years.

According to the report, business leaders named Python as the top programming language advantageous for roles which require some level of coding skills. Around 72 per cent of respondents ranked Python as the top, while JavaScript is the second, SQL is the third, Java is the fourth, and C++ is the fifth.

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