Thursday 7 April 2016 1:00 pm

Cyber security professionals are a big deal in Asia Pacific with strong technology skills in hot demand

Those who cite computing as their main hobby may not have been very popular back in their schoolyard days, but early indicators show they're set to become practically rock stars in one part of the world this year.

Demand for professionals skilled in fintech, digital and cyber security has helped bolster a strong job market in Asia Pacific during the first quarter of 2016, figures released today show.

According to the research by professional services recruiter Morgan McKinley, digital experience and a strong set of tech skills have remained key hiring requirements throughout the region, while an increasing number of employers are also calling for staff skilled in digital marketing.

Richie Holliday, operations chief at Morgan McKinley for Asia Pacific, remarked that the shift to digital was very noticeable in the banking sector. 

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Holliday said: "We're seeing banks close down branches which is resulting in layoffs for some. At the same time, these same banks are often hiring aggressively in the digital and fintech areas."

In general, the number of professional positions available across the Asia Pacific region grew to 17,517 in the first quarter of 2016, up 14 per cent compared with 15,432 in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The number of professionals actively job hunting in the region has also increased to 61,864, up 24 per cent compared with 49,702 in the previous quarter.

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"Two things explain these good numbers," said Holliday. "Firstly, the bulk of bonuses for 2015 were paid out during this quarter, activating candidates who then were free to proceed with their job searches.

"Secondly, new 2016 headcount budgets will have come into account in this quarter, which has increased recruitment levels for those businesses operating a January-December hiring cycle."

Figures from salary benchmarking tool Emolument also point towards positive growth in the region. "We've seen base salaries increasing as much as 10 to 15 per cent across the board in Asia Pacific in 2016 while they had been under pressure in 2015, when many mid-career professionals saw cuts in their compensation packages,” said Alice Leguay, operating chief of Emolument.

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The market for contract workers is also growing in the region.

"The positives of contracting are now being embraced by job seekers for the flexibility and quick hiring processes involved," said Andrew Evans, operating chief at Morgan McKinley South Asia. "Projects are often on a fixed term contract basis, offering an ability to gain broad expertise in various roles, which is key to career success and progression in the current changing market."