Demand rising for mobile developers in Asia

Proliferation of mobile devices and apps among consumers mean companies in region actively seeking mobile software engineers to help them meet this need, recruiters note.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

The ongoing proliferation of mobile devices, particularly smartphones, is spurring companies to leverage mobile technologies. This, in turn, is creating a booming jobs market for mobile software engineers, and it is something recruiters expect to keep growing for another two to three years.

Christine Wright, Hays' Asia operations director, said mobile software engineering is one of the fastest-growing areas in today's IT jobs market because employers, from multinational corporations (MNCs) to startups, are pushing their products and services via mobile platforms.

She noted that while smartphones were not as popular and readily available five years ago, this has since changed and with it created the demand for IT professionals skilled in mobile software development.

"Only with the popular acceptance of smartphones and proliferation of mobile apps [through] the convenience of getting these through the Web or app stores, has the mobile software engineering job market really taken off," she explained.

That said, Wright noted that there are plenty of opportunities still available in the market as demand for mobile software developers are still currently less than traditional application or Web developers.

Claire Smart, associate director for IT at Randstad Singapore, agreed. She noted with everyone using smartphone apps, from financial transactions and social networking to advertising and games, mobile software engineering has become a "hot" skillset sought after by companies from various industries including commercial, consumer, banking, and finance.

She added that as mobile security improves, consumers will feel more comfortable and have the trust to engage in more online activities using their devices, which would ramp up demand for such IT workers further.

As people continue to demand for real-time information and services using their mobile devices, the Asian market for IT professionals skilled in mobile tech will only get bigger in the next two to three years, reiterated Charles Chng, business manager of IT branch at recruitment firm Manpower Singapore.

Wright however pointed out that demand may reach a plateau and gradually taper off once the job market gets more saturated.

The point of saturation may also be achieved sooner rather than later, considering the market domination of Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating system which limits the need for a varied mix of developers for different platforms, she added.

The Hays executive did note that the mobile market is still evolving and, with the Microsoft-Nokia partnership key in promoting the former's Windows Phone ecosystem, she believes there is still a lot of demand being created.

Upgrade skills to boost employability
However, to safeguard their careers, these recruiters advised IT professionals to constantly upgrade their skills so as to stay attractive in the competitive, changing IT employment landscape.

Wright noted that as more mobile software engineers enter the market, employers will become more stringent about their requirements. As such, jobseekers need to be up to date and experiment with new programming languages beyond their expertise domain, she advised.

She also said a passion and active participation in software development projects, including mobile, will be a differentiating factor. "A passion--and portfolio--of mobile application development will get you a long way if it's backed up by solid personal or commercial experience."

Chng added that mobile developers should take responsible for their own careers, and they can do so by understanding their own strengths, being flexible and adaptable, and willing to try out new roles and industries.

After all, employers are not always to find the perfect candidate to fill the position and may consider those that may not have the skills required but has the capability to learn quickly and fill the gap, he explained.

Smart also noted that enriching and expanding one's skills is critical as mobile software engineers are able to move out of creating mobile apps and back into "hardcore programming" roles should the need arise.

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