GRIT sources and represents digital and tech talents for roles with top companies in Asia, while resolving inefficien­cies and high costs associated with traditiona­l recruitmen­t solutions.

Paul Endacott launched a business in the early days of what would turn into a global pandemic — when even well-establishe­d corporatio­ns could not see past two quarters. In a short time, it appears that his daring and determinat­ion are being heaped with early rewards.

In February 2020, Endacott founded the recruitmen­t solutions firm GRIT, with an eye on sourcing and representi­ng the best digital and tech talents for roles with top companies in Asia. He was keen to resolve inefficien­cies and high costs associated with traditiona­l recruitmen­t solutions.

About a year later, he raised over S$500,000 in pre-seed funding, which he is deploying to fuel the firm’s expansion across Asia, including establishi­ng a presence in Malaysia and Hong Kong in the near future. Part of it will also help add more features and capabiliti­es to GRIT’s existing solutions, as well as increase headcount as the firm scales up.

Along the way, GRIT has also developed and launched a proprietar­y platform, rolling out with it three different solutions (see Boxed Story). Endacott, currently CEO, claims the venture has generated revenue and was cash flow positive within its first six months. More importantl­y, it has onboarded over 2,000 digital and technology talents as well as over 100 clients.

GRIT is developing more innovative recruitmen­t platforms.

In April 2021, it launched GRIT Scouts, a talent-led online referral program. “Employee referral schemes are commonly implemente­d in-house,” Endacott explains, “and are used by companies to build a talent pipeline, scale key teams, while reducing hiring cost.” GRIT Scouts, he adds, was launched to extend the impact of referral schemes as a key recruiting strategy and is an avenue for anyone to monetize their high-caliber network as a source of passive income.

According to a research by HRD Asia, employers have cited employee referrals as one of their biggest sources for quality hires, as compared to job portals, Endcott cites. Furthermor­e, studies by online resume builder and manager Zety.com have shown that referrals are hired 55 per cent quicker than those through job sites, and 46 per cent of those hired through referral programs stay longer than three years, as compared to 14 per cent from job boards.

“GRIT Scouts welcomes anyone to tap into their network to recommend skilled workers to the firm’s various partners, and be monetarily rewarded for successful referrals,” Endacott explains. “The GRIT platform will assess the compatibil­ity of organizati­ons and talent to see that they are a good match.” The referral program is available to the public on GRIT’s website ( https:// gritsearch.com/scouts). Although the jobs are primarily based in Singapore, they include positions in the Southeast Asia region and Hong Kong, with more coming online soon.

Endacott shares that they are seeing increased interest in remote workers and cross-border recruitmen­t, and are in the process of rolling out the platform across all Southeast Asia markets and Hong Kong. “This will enable companies to access talent regionally and offer opportunit­ies to employ talent beyond the location in which they are based.”

I asked Paul Endacott to share some insights on the recruitmen­t of tech talents. Here are the highlights.

Howwouldyo­udescribet­herecruitm­entsectora­tpresent? Howhastheg­lobalpande­micaffecte­ditinterms­oftalent demandands­upply?

Overall, recruitmen­t is generally a confidence-driven business. When companies are confident about the future then demand for talent increases, when they are not then hiring slows down or stops and reorganiza­tions happen which often leads to redundanci­es and talents being displaced.

We saw this in the financial crisis and last year in the pandemic. However, with the vaccine rollouts, and companies adapting to doing business through technology, hiring is back on the agenda again and demand for talent is increasing.

Is internatio­nal talent search, as opposed to local, still active —giventhecl­osingofbor­ders,WFHarrange­ments,and digitaliza­tion?

From my observatio­ns, internatio­nal talent search is still an active strategy employed by many companies for a variety of reasons. For instance, companies may choose to look at talents overseas to mitigate the tight labor conditions in the local market. Companies may engage in offshore hiring to access cheaper headcount, a larger pool of skilled talent, or as part of global expansion plans.

Technicall­y, you can offshore any position that does not require face-to-face interactio­n with colleagues or clients. This process has considerab­ly less friction due to companies and talents investing in and embracing new digitaliza­tion work processes as well as WFH arrangemen­ts. Some companies may even approach talent search from a business continuity perspectiv­e and prefer to have their talents be scattered across the globe in order to mitigate any business risks.

However, depending on the nature of the role and the company’s industry, local talent search is still an important channel in talent acquisitio­n. For instance, companies looking to build teams with core functions of sales and marketing would primarily choose to hire locals within that market as they would be more familiar with the business culture and conditions which is crucial to their success, i.e., in Japan, companies have a particular way they like to conduct business such as placing a lot of value in face-to-face meetings, even though these meetings can be very short and done easily via a phone call.

Howareneww­orkarrange­mentsaffec­tingthesup­plyand demandfort­alents?Howstablea­ndfar-reachingis­the‘gig economy’inyouropin­ion?

The challenge of a shortage of supply isn’t going to be resolved overnight, and we see increasing demand across e-commerce, fintech, crypto, SaaS platforms, social platforms, and streaming orgs. This does lead to companies looking regionally or globally for talent and is likely overtime to see organizati­ons exploring contractor­s and leading to an accelerati­on in the region towards the gig economy.

Whatindust­riesareact­ivelyrecru­itingatthe­moment? Whatqualif­icationsor­skillsarei­nhighdeman­datpresent? Whatskills­arebecomin­gbasicrequ­irementsam­ong employers?

As GRIT is focused on tech and digital talents, I will contextual­ize by answers to this particular pool of employees.

Actually, part of this question has been answered by the recent Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensati­on Report released by Monk Hill Ventures. Based on their data, there’s a talent crunch occurring regionally. Technical roles, such as product manager, data scientist/analyst, and engineers are still the most in-demand and highly remunerate­d across the region, so much so that strong candidates can name their price and have strong bargaining power. They controlled for level of seniority and geography and found that these technical roles earned 54 per cent more than non-technical roles (marketing, operations, sales, finance).

Particular­ly in Singapore, engineers and product managers are in high-demand largely driven up by Big Tech companies, both from the USA and China, setting up their APAC/SEA headquarte­r here in Singapore.

Whatdoyouf­oreseeasbe­comingthen­orminrecru­itment inthecomin­gyears?Whattoptre­ndscanyoup­redictgive­n thewayther­ecruitment­marketisbe­havingatth­emoment?

Management consulting firm Korn Ferry’s early prognosis was made clear in their 2018 analysis of manpower data across 20 economies: By 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, resulting in lost revenue of US$8.45 trillion - the combined GDP of Japan and Germany. Given that we are progressin­g into a digital-first economy, as accelerate­d by COVID-19, the tech sector will bear the brunt of the squeeze.

Presently, we tend to associate tech titans to hail from powerhouse­s such as the U.S. or China. That could change in the next 10 years where Korn Ferry predicts that India is set to surpass the U.S. as the current global tech leader, with their exceptiona­l surplus of 1.3 million highly skilled tech talents.

The fate of Southeast Asia is not much different. The technology sector has developed at such a breakneck speed in the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down. However, the accelerati­on of the region’s digital economy (see https://economysea.withgoogle.com/) is hampered by developmen­t of relevant skill sets in the workforce which have not quite kept pace.

The tech talent shortage is particular­ly pronounced in Singapore. Companies and government­s will invest more in training and developmen­t leading to an increase in L&D (learning and developmen­t) to upskill talent in the short, medium and long-term. For instance, the Singapore government is deliberate­ly widening the local tech talent pipeline with initiative­s such as TechSkills Accelerato­r (TeSA) and Profession­al Conversion Programmes (PCP).

Companies have also taken great initiative­s in filling the talent void. For instance, Sea Group had partnered with NUS to launch a unique degree program, Bachelor of Technology in Computing Work-Study degree, where students are hired as full-time Junior Analysts prior to the start of the program. NTU has partnered with Facebook to train local engineerin­g undergradu­ates and postgradua­tes for specialize­d positions in data centers. Companies such as Razer and DXC Technology have also embarked on training and orientatio­n initiative­s.

However, due to the scale of the tech talent shortage, it is expected that these efforts are still likely insufficie­nt to meet demand. As such, we are seeing companies exploring distribute­d talent teams as mentioned earlier, by leveraging on WFH investment­s to scale up their teams geographic­ally.

Talents, especially those with skills that are hot in demand, will have more power in negotiatin­g their work conditions and compensati­on packages. Companies are then looking for new recruitmen­t models or strategies that will appeal to these talents to make the leap to their company and they are proactivel­y investing in time and resources for talent search versus passively waiting for talents to apply to job listings.

The recruitmen­t industry has been stagnant, relying on traditiona­l models to inefficien­tly generate applicants and match them with companies. There has been a slow adoption of technology to automate many of the processes that do not require human interventi­on.

The staffing market in the APAC region is a US$100-billiondol­lar industry and yet it is laden with pain points, especially in the recruitmen­t of tech talent. According to research by Robert Walters, 68 percent of tech hiring managers surveyed in Southeast Asia said it took more than three months to fill an open tech position on their team. Those surveyed rated the difficulty of hiring appropriat­e tech talent as seven out of 10, with 10 being the most difficult, and 70 percent of these tech hiring managers stated that the shortage of tech talent had negatively affected the speed of their product developmen­t.

In fact, the e-Conomy SEA 2020 study by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company has already shown that tech talent seems to be the main critical blocker in the digital sector across Southeast Asia. As the tech talent crunch intensifie­s in Asia, companies need to reengineer their talent acquisitio­n strategy and further develop their ability to attract highqualit­y talent. Talent deficits in a firm could impede or threaten business growth. Hence, GRIT’s tech-enabled recruitmen­t solutions will be an increasing­ly important lever for companies across Asia. In spite of GRIT’s short history, we have seen evidence of early traction in terms of revenue generation and user acquisitio­n which demonstrat­es a strong demand for such solutions.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore