The Content Boom in South-East Asia

Global Employability

Digital transformation in Singapore's internet economy leaves a deficit of digital content specialists

The digital industry is expanding faster than businesses can recruit, leaving a gaping deficit in digital specialists worldwide. In Singapore, for instance, the internet economy is predicted to reach dizzying heights by 2020, and there is already a lack of digital content specialists in the job market. But, here’s the problem – the exponential growth in the digital landscape has not been followed by a growth in skills at the same pace. There is a severe shortage of able, trained professionals in content strategy and also a lack of specialized recruitment knowledge in these newly burgeoning digital fields. What has brought about this shortage is a big mind-shift in the way companies are looking at content. Where digital content was once seen as an add-on to a marketing strategy, it has now become central to it. Content strategy, businesses have realized, is crucial to traffic, and thus conversion and revenue. Hence the need for qualified and experienced content specialists.

Need of the hour

While recruitment drives are clearly currently achieving limited success in closing the skills gaps, over 90% of businesses interviewed by SAP agreed that digital transformation is integral to the overall growth of any business.

While the urgency to push forward digital transformation is felt and acknowledged, the strategic re-positioning of a businesses’ recruitment to suit market demands is lacking.

Two studies carried out by SAP “Employees Lack Skills for Digital Transformation” (2015) and “Skills for Digital Transformation” (2017, backed by Technical University of Munich) have revealed little development in attempts to close the skills gaps across many businesses in the previous decade.

As a digitized world becomes the norm, the question on every young graduate’s mind is: what is the future of jobs?

Content is king

As is slowly being recognised, the revenue making potential of content writing is enormous. Despite ‘the arts’, ‘creative writing’, ‘blog writing’, ‘vlogging’ long being recognised as having potential advertising/revenue drawing potential, digital content specialists are carving out new lucrative niches for themselves and making themselves integral to digital transformation. For those professionals who have one foot in the ‘tech’ door and the other in the arts and creative industries, this cross-over career can be perfect.

Content, blogs, were once seen as an ‘add on’ in the marketing world. However, catchy tag lines and colourful and eye-catching slogans (what’s called click bait content) are not the only forms of content out there. Creative writing now has a directly commercial ‘hat’, thanks to Google and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Learning to write in a way that works best with Google’s ranking system can put a company’s content right at the top of a Google search – of course, that’s not all there is to making it to the first page of Google – you need the right keywords and optimization, but good, original content is definitely needed. Content, as they say, is still king and, as a consequence, content specialists are in high demand.

The growing job market

Southeast Asia’s internet economy has already reached $67.6 billion and is set to reach $200 billion by 2025, largely because of the growth of online businesses. This surge has created a huge demand-supply issue. There are more jobs out there for skilled specialists with the ability to rank a company at the top of organic searches than there are skilled specialists.

And here’s another issue – rather two issues. One, Google changes its search parameters frequently and second, customers change their queries often. The field, thus, grows and changes on a daily basis. The result? Businesses feel the need for people with broader skills sets – people who not only have writing abilities, but also analytical vision (not to mention the adaptability to keep up with the fast changing industry). From a job-description perspective, the need then is for content-writers-strategists-distributors rolled into one. Those who are able to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing environment will excel in this field.

But wait, it gets better (or worse). Content professionals with the good-to-have skills will find themselves in the front of the queue – like digital strategy, knowledge of SEO, Google analytics, distribution knowledge (especially of mobile-optimized content) as well as an orientation towards software design, visual layout and user experience (UX) . This, however, does not mean that one jack-of-all-trades content person would need to do all this work for an organization. What it means is that content creators will need to have a 360 degree vision of the life and distribution of the content they create. A readiness to address and work on skills gaps will go a long way for most employers, according to the Digital Marketing Institute.

Salaries in digital marketing are on the rise as companies see their revenue increase with only a little investment in the sector. Digital marketing specialists can earn anything upwards of $50 000 per year. As knowledge of the industry develops, so will the number of qualified specialists. Forecasts are that, in a decade, there will be a glut of specialised graduates with niche qualifications in new digital fields.

Those with a content bent of mind should capitalise on their transferable skills and branch into the industry. And, since there is a deficit of digital content specialists in south-east Asia, it would be great idea for professionals to broaden their skill sets and branch out into these growing markets.

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Global Employability


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