Which five skills will make you the most employable in startups for 2018?


A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide by 2030, due to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As jobs are eliminated or lost to automation, new jobs will be created and existing roles redefined. While repetitious physical labor or rote processing jobs are more at risk of being replaced, creative and cognitive jobs will rise in demand.

This fits in with the career trends that we’ve seen in Singapore in the past few years and that we project to see in 2018. The forecast for the local tech and innovation industry is optimistic, because of rising support from both the public and private sectors.

For Budget 2017, the Singapore government revealed that they will invest S$2.4 billion over the next four years for Future Economy strategies, which include measures to support companies that are embarking on innovation.

And according to the Singapore Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, VC funding for Singapore-based companies have been topping US$1 billion annually in recent years. From 2011 to 2016, Singapore-based VCs doubled their assets under management to US$3.6 billion.

Singapore has also nurtured its own share of “unicorns” — startups valued at over US$1 billion — including Sea (formerly known as Garena), Razer, Lazada, and Grab. As a result, Singapore is attracting other startups from around the world to locate here.

5 in-demand tech and innovation jobs for 2018

Given what we know about the tech and innovation industry, what kinds of careers do we see growing in demand for 2018 and beyond?


1. Engineers and developers

According to Gartner, the top technology trends that will impact most organisations in 2018 include AI, intelligent analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain. Engineers and developers that can up-skill themselves in these areas will be very much in demand. Five technology companies that the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) highlighted in November, for example, use a combination of the above technologies.

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2. UX designers

UX (user experience) design is one of technology’s fastest growing fields. Adobe’s survey of 500 managers and department heads working in UX design found that hiring more UX designers was top priority for over eighty-seven percent of managers. Besides strong skills in interface design, these companies also look for project management abilities.

The demand is particularly acute for senior UX talent who, in addition to UX expertise, have the leadership skills that will complement founders and senior management as they embark on the hyper-growth stage.

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3. Data scientists/Analytics/Business Intelligence

As an increasing number of startups reach hyper-growth stage with high user acquisition and engagement, a parallel surge in data follows. With the growth of user data comes a need for dedicated analytics staff to understand it.

Large corporations are also investing in similar digitisation efforts and that adds to the demand for professionals skilled in data and analytics, who can help them translate big data into actionable business strategies.

The demand is expected to accelerate; IBM predicts that demand for data scientists will increase 28% by 2020, with 59% of that demand coming from Finance and Insurance, Professional Services, and IT.

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4. Digital marketers

By 2020, US spending on digital advertising is estimated to hit US$113.18 billion. There are more technologies and platforms than ever for businesses to reach their customers, and they’ll require digital marketers who are able to think strategically and are technically savvy.

The most sought-after digital marketers will be those that are technical, with deep granular understanding of the customer journey and be skilled with various analytical tools to aid their work.

We have also noticed a greater number of businesses creating their own in-house digital marketers to generate, nurture and convert leads, instead of relying on agencies or online aggregators.  This is especially evident amongst the banking/insurance, hospitality and retail industries.

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5. Content marketers

With the shift to digital advertising comes a parallel growth in content marketing. According to Marketing Land, the number of content marketing job listings has grown nearly 350% since 2011. In comparison to traditional advertising, content marketing focuses on creating, publishing and distributing engaging content for online audiences.

In 2017, we saw a threefold increase in startups hiring content marketers who have a rare combination of editorial and digital marketing competence.  It tops our most challenging roles to fill this year, almost on par with engineering positions! The demand is expected to accelerate further in 2018.


Innovation has brought about rapid changes in skill requirements and jobs this decade. What began as skills that are relevant in startups are now very much required in large corporates who are pushing the innovation agenda.. While startups continue to be the best place to nurture most of the above skills, a skill and talent transfer will be evident in 2018.

Our advice...

“Stay current, stay relevant and have the courage to learn” .

All the very best for 2018!

If you have a different perspective or comments, we would love to hear from you!