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Filipino IT talent: Workplace wishlists for 2024

As we enter the second quarter of 2024, there’s a noticeable shift in investment towards digital transformation, with local companies in the Philippines steadily adopting technologies like AI and cloud computing.

This trend strongly indicates a heightened demand for skilled IT professionals, and there’s no doubt that recruiting such talent has become more competitive than ever, primarily due to the rapidly changing dynamics of supply and demand in the market.

Companies are being challenged to create a more appealing workplace environment and culture to attract young tech-savvy employees, particularly those in their 20s and 30s.

These individuals, however, belong to a new generational group of workers that prefer to look beyond just financial rewards and instead often prioritise flexibility, personal fulfilment, and professional satisfaction when making career choices.

The changing preferences represent a broader change in the workforce: Employees are becoming more critical and selective when choosing an employer to whom they will commit their professional time, as well as seeing how these employers align with their values and pursuits.

Tech talent doesn’t live on bread alone

Working with hundreds of developers in Japan and the Philippines, I’ve seen first-hand what insights from Robert Walters, a professional recruitment consultancy, reveal about the significant tilt among Filipino employees towards flexible working approaches put in place during and after the pandemic.

According to the consultancy’s “The Truth about Working from Home” study, eight out of nine workers expressed contentment with the shift to remote work. As a result, enticing highly skilled tech workers back to the brick-and-mortar workspace requires attractive perks and benefits. The days of a 90s-style cubicle for each worker are over. 

Companies that combine return-to-office and hybrid options for staff will enjoy better work performance and overall productivity, partly by modernising and upgrading office spaces so that IT talent would want to spend time there. 

Breakout zones, for instance, can bring colleagues together for socialising activities during break time, while open office spaces where team members are not bound encourages a collaborative environment for sharing ideas. 

It is these soft touches that make the workspace more appealing and foster innovation and increased productivity levels among employees.

For many IT professionals, a major allure to applying for jobs is the opportunity to get their hands on the latest technologies, from AI to cloud applications runing on programming languages like Ktor and Kotlin. 

In fact, 57% of workers, according to a study by the Adecco Group, are clamouring for their organisations to roll out tech upskilling initiatives broadly and deeply. With Philippine corporations embarking on digital transformations that have accelerated since the pandemic, demand for a proficient tech workforce has never been higher.

Both the private sector and public entities such as government and educational institutions must step up to the plate by offering robust opportunities for tech talent cultivation and lifelong learning at work.

In cities like Cebu, which is now considered a growing tech hub, the concern for long-term job security among IT engineers and developers is palpable. This is inevitable in places where outsourcing is prevalent and tech work has, historically, been mainly available on short-term contracts or freelance basis.

Consequently, firms with a well-established market presence (particularly publicly listed ones) are usually sought after owing to the high levels of job security they offer IT talent.

Given all this as a backdrop, I believe the digital transition of Southeast Asian economies will only intensify amid the growing need for technological skills and roles, surpassing the available pool.

Value-driven tech work

According to a survey by Deloitte last year, most Gen Z and millennial workers prioritise job satisfaction and personal fulfilment over long hours and short-term gains.

Even in the context of IT engineers and software developers, there remains a strong desire for jobs that are value-driven and aligned with personal goals. This is particularly true for tech enthusiasts who have a deep interest in Japanese culture, or those who enjoy anime, video games, and reading manga.

Securing a role within a Japanese firm could offer these individuals a fulfilling experience on both personal and professional levels, allowing them to engage with colleagues who share their cultural passions while advancing in their careers.

Workers today are also becoming increasingly environmentally mindful. The growing awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles is pushing tech companies to demonstrate their commitment to these issues.

This shift indicates a broader movement towards joining organisations that do more than just make profits; these organisations strive to positively influence global issues, such as through reforestation initiatives.

Recent findings from the Gartner Global Labor Market Survey reveal that about 60% of IT professionals are willing to switch companies for those more devoted to ESG goals.

By embracing these changes and implementing them, firms in the Philippines and the broader Southeast Asia region can do more than just attract top-notch talent—they can retain them.