Software Development in Asia: Overcoming Skill Shortage & Embracing Innovation

December 26, 2023
Jolyn Ng

Asia's technology industry continues innovating amidst global instability, with sectors like ecommerce and finance undergoing massive digital disruption for huge growth opportunities. However, this rapid transformation trajectory faces a key roadblock - the widening gap between surging demand and available supply of skilled technical talent in software development.

This article examines the dimensions of Asia's talent crunch, its root causes, and sustainable hiring models that companies are leveraging to secure capabilities in this competitive landscape.

Top Technology Trends in Asia

Asia is spearheading advancements across diverse sectors, powered by its mobile-first generation of users, fast-growing middle class, and enabling policy environment.


As Internet penetration expands, ecommerce could exceed $2.2 trillion in revenues by 2028, with the industry a testament to the region’s digital dynamism. From market leaders to strategy-focused startups, players compete on innovation areas in payments, marketing automation, supply chain optimization, immersive interfaces, and more.

Innovations in mobile and social commerce are also reinventing customer experiences, such as Alibaba’s AI-driven personalization, Shopee’s augmented reality virtual try-ons, and’s blockchain operations.

Not to forget, the explosive growth also pressures infrastructure. Delivering reliable, scalable and smooth user experiences on traffic-intensive sites during peak events like 11/11 sales require sophisticated engineering resources to manage the burgeoning traffic and user bases.


With the world's fastest-growing fintech industry, Asia is witnessing a transformative phase, where digital wallets, alternative lending, and blockchain-based financial systems are redefining traditional financial models for customers and businesses.

Fueled by an exponential growth of users and revenues, businesses need specialized engineering talent to build digital banking infrastructure, modernize legacy platforms, and create inclusive solutions tailored to mass usage.

Innovators like India's Cred and Philippines' Cropital as well as non-financial players like Grab, Singtel and Sea further demonstrate the sector’s potential, yet they also highlight the need for talent proficient in new financial technologies and innovative problem-solving approaches.

Super apps

Super apps like Grab and WeChat are altering the digital landscape, converging multiple services like messaging, payments, transport, and food delivery into a single mobile platform. From Asia to the other parts of the world, they are reshaping consumer expectations around convenience, personalization, experience, and security, as they progressively evolve and plug into the lifestyles of their users.

Capabilities like predictive analytics for demand forecasting, user-based content, integrated digital payments, conversations interfaces and chatbots, and unified loyalty programs underpin some of their successes.

This evolution calls for developers to think beyond traditional app development, considering aspects like user experience, data integration, and multi-functionality with nimble engineering to unlock new opportunities in one of tech’s fastest growing spaces.

Edtech, Logistics Tech, and Healthtech

While at a relatively nascent stage, Asia's vast education, logistics, and healthcare markets are similarly seeing tremendous technology-led disruption to plug into the region’s needs.

Personalization, data analytics, blockchain-based operations, and the likes call for specialized engineering talent who understand the application and delivery of technology in such use cases.

Unpacking the Talent Shortage

Accelerating digitalization as seen from the region’s projected tech spend of $732 billion has created extreme demand-supply mismatches in Asia’s talent market. Companies are struggling to find much-needed technical specialists, but it’s more than just a numbers game.

Rapid Technological Advancements

The pace at which new technologies emerge and increasingly put on companies’ agendas like AI has outstripped the rate of skill development in those fields, exposing a gap in specialized knowledge for companies to fill urgently. Key development areas like cloud and UX spanning multiple conventional roles also increase the difficulty of finding well-rounded engineers with hybrid skill sets not available years ago.

Educational Pipeline-Job Market Mismatches

While the region produces a significant number of STEM graduates every year, there’s often a disconnect between academic curricula and industry needs. This results in a time lag for junior tech workers to gain enough real-world experience while companies compete for mid-level experts with the immediate skills and mindsets they need for the job.

Uneven Talent Distribution

Advanced tech hubs like India and China boast high-calibre software development talent and expertise, while others lag behind in training up its own talent pool, resulting in a mixed bag of developer quality and levels within the region. Established markets like Singapore with triple the engineer costs look to scale teams from lower cost hubs, while developing economies tap seasoned capabilities from the region’s mature tech centres to close skill gaps fast.

Work Environment Expectations

Younger developers prefer innovative product teams over support functions at traditional firms undertaking digital transformations. More senior engineers look for salary hikes, benefits, and opportunities for growth as career advancements.

Embracing Flexible Hiring Models

In the face of this tech talent crunch, companies are adopting flexible hiring approaches and diversifying their sourcing strategies across local, outsourced and offshore channels to access tech talent. Contracting roles and remote teams, in particular, have become increasingly viable options as companies prioritize specialized skills, speed of hiring, and maximizing flexibility in today’s uncertain economic conditions.

Local Direct Hiring

Hiring in-house team allows companies to embed their culture and enable tighter collaboration. However, tech talent deficits, lengthy recruitment cycles and intensifying competition makes finding skilled senior engineers difficult.

Beyond just posting on boards like LinkedIn and GitHub, robust in-house hiring has huge time and cost investments:

  • Application Screening: Structured evaluations by tech leaders act as a first filter before interviews. This requires consistent criteria and training hiring managers.
  • Technical Assessments: Multi-round assessments including live coding, architecture design and psychometric tests validate skills. Many leverage AI tools to simplify.
  • Onboarding & Training: Comprehensive onboarding transitioning new hires into company processes via documentation, mentoring and staged training is vital for productivity.
  • Performance Reviews: Regular feedback cycles, clear goal-setting aligned to business objectives and training help boost output while reducing attrition risk.

The downside is that despite months of integration efforts, developer churn remains a possibility, disrupting team workflows, project continuity and operations. Mitigating this requires the above investments alongside attractive employee value propositions - from startup equity to learning budgets.

In talent-sparse conditions, local hiring calls for a holistic approach spanning recruitment to retention. The stakes are high, but constructed right, in-house teams drive tremendous velocity.


Outsourcing software projects to specialized offshore vendors provides immediate access to capabilities that local talent markets often lack, allowing companies to handover software development to an external team.

Choosing the right partner in this case is vital — a rigorous selection process of a software development agency requires thorough evaluation of technical breadth, quality standards, communication structures and workplace culture.

In the engagement process, ongoing governance in the form of performance reviews, documentation checks, crisis planning and open dialog ensures optimal collaboration. When executed well, outsourcing achieves:

  • Cost and Time Savings: Specialist teams with contextual knowledge can accelerate delivery timelines while providing high-quality outcomes for lower costs.
  • Access to Niche Capabilities: Specialized skills can be tapped without extensive hiring and training efforts.
  • Flexibility: Teams can scale up or down through the partner as business needs evolve, avoiding local talent sourcing constraints.

However, change management across internal stakeholders, protecting IP and minimizing knowledge gaps require proactive crisis planning. Firms must budget governance oversight, communications and transition processes for maximum outsourcing success.

Staff Augmentation

Similar to outsourcing, staff augmentation has become integral across software development lifecycles, providing access to specialized skills and scalability on demand.

Staff augmentation from trusted vendors complements in-house developers with the agility and capabilities needed to tackle large, demanding projects without the long-term commitment of hiring full-time staff.

Companies get dedicated engineers seamlessly integrated alongside internal teams, managed directly by them, without the administrative headaches. It follows a rigorous process:

  • Requirements Gathering: Details expected timelines, technical skill sets needed and team integration plans.
  • Screening and Matching: Potential contractors are evaluated on technical abilities, soft skills and cultural fit before shortlisting candidates.
  • Interviews and Assessments: Comprehensive interviews, tech assessments and psychometric checks validate capabilities.
  • Onboarding: Selected developers undergo documentation training, code reviews and alignment with internal workflows for optimized assimilation.
  • Governance: Performance metrics, team bonding initiatives, open communication channels and feedback loops ensure consistency.

While variability in contractor skills and inadequate collaboration can be common concerns, providers like JetDevs steer you away from those pitfalls with transparent standardized developer certification, 100% satisfaction trials, minimum work-day guarantees, and secure IP protection.

With strong communication, clear workflows, and transparent regular updates, contracted team members can become virtually indistinguishable from internal staff.


Freelancing marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr offer access to developers globally for short-term remote engagements, providing flexibility and low overhead.

The sheer diversity of talent pools from anywhere around the world allows companies to find niche technical skills or generalists at affordable rates. Structures like fixed project fees and hourly billings offer cost control.

However, identifying and screening capable freelancers carries overhead. Assessment criteria span:

  • Technical Abilities: Core competencies related to project work types verified via tests.
  • Project Management: Ability to break down requirements, maintain documentation and deliver with quality.
  • Communication: Clear language skills and responsiveness levels on previous work.
  • Availability: Current workload across clients and ability to dedicated time.

Once selected, milestones, check-ins and feedback loops ensure results. But oversight requires investment and freelancers managing multiple clients risk inconsistent availability. IP protection methods and security precautions are also essential when sharing code or data.

For relatively lightweight, discrete project needs without deep integration needs, freelancer networks offer access to flexible skills. But vetting, governance and planning costs should not be underestimated.

Why are Asia-based developers the best choice for Asia’s software development?

The continent has historically been a global hub for software and IT services known for its high calibre of technical expertise at competitive costs. India and China are mature tech powerhouses long preferred by businesses both in the region and from all over the world, while new emerging centres like Vietnam are fast becoming favorites with their lower-cost talent with growing skillsets and English proficiency for business exchange.

The technical education in academia and practical produce a huge tappable pool of Asian developers every year, who go on and gain on-the-job experience with global tech firms, startups, and outsourcing centers. Because of the volume of tech talent, they are highly competitive and constantly equip themselves with cutting-edge technologies and best practices to cater to the unique demands of the region’s tech sector.

For businesses based in Asia, nearshoring with regional hubs come with the extra benefit of sharing the same timezone for faster communications and coordinated collaboration, in turn amplifying capabilities and speeding up software development.

Why work with JetDevs for Software Development?

JetDevs is the first platform leveraging strong partnerships across Asia and beyond to provide streamlined access to a deep talent pool of pre-vetted senior software engineers and developers. It is a one-stop service that simplifies tech hiring across borders, letting companies focus on strategic priorities instead of recruitment. JetDevs experts take care of finding matching candidates, developer contracting and payroll, onboarding, performance tracking, and even till offboarding.

The flexibility to scale development teams up and down is a huge plus in today’s context, offering companies the capacity to shift resources with JetDevs’ consolidated invoicing and monthly contracts.

Full IP protection as well as industry-leading service-level agreements also put JetDevs’ clients’ interests first, ensuring not only the right engineers are matched to their needs, but also that they maximise productivity, just as a virtual extension of their in-house teams.


As the tech sector in Asia continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, the ability to adapt to and address the talent gap will be a key determinant of success. Companies that can effectively leverage diverse hiring models, tap into the regional talent pool, and foster a culture of innovation and adaptability will be well-positioned to lead in this exciting era of technological advancement, ensuring agility and resilience in their operations.

Proactive strategic hiring approaches can efficiently channel the region’s software engineering strengths into successful collaborations, and JetDevs is here to help businesses achieve that.