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Is the talent crunch leading to a massive outsourcing in ad agencies?

Is the talent crunch leading to a massive outsourcing in ad agencies?

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The talent crunch faced by companies has taken a toll on many within the marketing industry. In Singapore, companies remain eager to hire international talent, with countries such as the Philippines (12%), India (12%), United States (11%), Indonesia (6%) and Canada (4%) coming in as the most popular countries to seek international talent from, according to a recent report by Deel. 

Top roles that Singapore companies are hiring include virtual assistance (26%), software engineers (22%), software developers (10%), content writers (9%) and community managers (8%). Singapore talent is also highly sought after globally. The USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel and Virgin Islands represent the top countries currently hiring Singapore talent, with sales and software engineer roles being the highest paying roles offered.  

Deel’s study also said that given the high demand for talent and a shortage of available candidates, companies are looking outside higher-cost countries to find quality talent.

Agreeing to this notion are many leaders within the ad ecosystem. According to Zayn Khan, Asia CEO at Dragon Rouge, the trend is definitely on the rise in ad land. For the branding and design firm, with its global network, it has been off-shoring some of its work to countries such as Malaysia, India, Brazil and Poland. “

As we have offices in Brazil and Poland, we are collaborating more with them to deliver high quality design services at speed and with an attractive hourly rate," he said. This has helped the firm to develop a more agile model to serve clients, and remove some of the pressure to hire locally where there is currently a lack of affordable, high-calibre talent, Khan explained.

Given the high cost of manpower in Singapore and ease of cross border collaboration due to enhanced conferencing tools, the outsourcing of the jobs in the ad industry especially to other Southeast Asia countries where time zone is not an issue and talent pool is a much bigger will only become more prevalent, added on digital creative firm Germs’ founder James Chua.

“With Singapore being an attractive destination for a lot of MNCs to set up an Asia Hub and head quarter, the manpower crunch here is rather severe. Apart from the high cost, certain roles are getting increasingly hard to fill due to a shrinking talent pool,” said Chua. Germs looks to mainly outsource functions that are culturally and linguistically neutral such as web development and UX/UI. These roles have also topped the list of many other firms given the lack of talent in the space.

“Currently, we have partners in Indonesia as the tech talent pool is relatively large. However, hiring a copywriter or even a concept based art director in Indonesia would not work if we are tackling briefs for local brands looking for localised content ideas,” explained Chua on the choice to keep creative work within the Singapore team.

He added that what companies need to note when outsourcing is that project planning process will need to be highly cohesive and inclusive to ensure the seamless collaboration of minds.

Agreeing with his point is Jay Soo, CEO of Moving Bits, a creative production outfit which has prided itself as an in-house production and post-production to support its creative team’s ideas. “We not only need the traditional agency type of talent but also the talent that can edit and do visual FX and the likes, which are all very specialised, making it more challenging to hire,” said Soo.

He added that with the Singapore government also controlling the number of people allowed into the country, the firm has had to look outside the nation’s borders. “Thankfully, these talents are available out of the market, and with the relative strength of the Singapore dollar, outsourcing hasn’t been too tricky a proposition,” he said.

When it comes to outsourcing, Soo adds that Philippines, India and Malaysia are natural choices given the higher number of English speaking talent available in the market. Thailand and Indonesia too are hot on his radar, despite language barriers that sometimes arise  Most of the jobs Moving Bits oursources come from the post-production positions. “With the excellent internet infrastructure we have here in SG, it is easy for very talented artists with the same access to the internet to work from anywhere in the world,” he said. 

In a previous conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, ADNA CEO David Mayo also shared that the ad firm has four tiers of staff costs: permanent, guild, permalance, and freelance.

“We find that not everyone wants to work full time/all the time so we shrink to fit their specific view on life - we find this really works for all. And with the increase in short-termism in the world, this is the most sensible way to form a 'house of excellence' without indenturing staff or clients,” he added.

Related articles:

Fancy titles and salary spikes: A cheap trick to retain talent in HK ad land?
APAC ad ecosystem blames lack of talent for growth block

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