Though Q4 projections were not met in nations across Southeast Asia, the growth in the region is stable thanks to the expansion of multinational companies and increased foreign investment into the region, according to Monster Employment Index. This will likely spur hiring in those emerging markets, especially those with maturing economies.
For more mature economies – such as in Singapore – hiring should remain stable if slower than what was seen throughout 2018. This will also be impacted by the government’s focus on upskilling efforts the encourage businesses to invest in courses and other forms of continued education to ensure that employees are prepared for the growing trend of digitization and emerging technologies, such as increased AI and machine learning.
In Singapore, IT, Telecom/ISP and BPO/ITES sector were one of the strongest in the republic’s online hiring throughout 2018, netting a growth of 23% year-on-year in December. In the Philippines, Purchase/ Logistics/ Supply Chain continued to witness the most-notable growth among job-roles, on-the-year. BFSI continues its substantial growth in Singapore and Philippines and forecasted by Bain & Company to remain a steady source of investment into 2019.
Digitalization is sweeping the region
As Southeast Asia continues to woo startups in its bid to become an industrial and tech hub, digitalization is sweeping the region, and job roles requiring niche skills and experience are growing in demand. But roles seeking these types of specialized knowledge are not only limited to the IT industry and are being seen in such sectors as manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, human resources, and finance, among others as companies look to combine traditional skills with contemporary ones.
Though this bodes well for the region’s growth, the challenge this type of hiring demand poses is that there is both a regional and global talent shortage, leading many companies to compete for a small pool of international candidates, and governments to champion the upskilling and reskilling of local talent so that they can supply the type of talent the industries they’ve worked to attract demand.
Market opportunities: “Glocal” candidates
Businesses across the region are looking to hire local talent, but as multinationals increasingly set up shop in Southeast Asia and local businesses begin considering expansion, companies across the board are looking to go “glocal” – that is, to hire local candidates with global experience.
As businesses look to recruit this type of talent, it’s likely the competition will be high, as local talent pools may not be deep. However, it is possible that as opportunities in the region expand, local talent who may have moved abroad in search of specific experience would be willing to move back if the right offer came along. Due to this, companies in the region will likely not only extend internationally competitive salaries but will also incorporate benefits like flexible working arrangements, increased holiday leave and other innovative benefits in order to recruit and retain the talent they seek.
Driving force: digitization
“It may be a buzzword, but digitization is a juggernaut that cannot be ignored, especially in Southeast Asia,” says Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO, Monster.com - APAC and Middle East. Companies in an array of industries will be streamlining processes, upgrading legacy hardware and software, and incorporating tools using artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to increase productivity and efficiency. As this process occurs for businesses throughout the region, employees will be expected to learn new ways of doing their job and even to expand their job scope based on the improvements, customizations and new standard operating procedures digitization bring.
The Southeast Asian markets saw a rocky end to 2018. Though year-on-year online hiring growth was positive for Singapore and the Philippines, Malaysia did not fare as well, each of the economies for Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia missed their respective government’s forecasted economic marks for the quarter. Though GDPs are down across the board, hiring activity and local employment figures are growing thanks to a combination of seasonal hiring and an influx of roles requiring digital know-how.
Singapore and the Philippines both ended the year strong, with positive online recruitment outlooks, while Malaysia struggled to keep pace and ultimately ended the year with a downward growth trajectory, despite lifts in several industry sectors.