Talent Hunt: Where Expats and Women Are Welcome

When it comes to talent management, Malaysia, Japan and Australia share a common thread – companies in these three countries are looking outward to staff finance, healthcare, software and other positions. It’s a theme that will persist in 2013.
Reflecting the need for foreign talent in Malaysia, a new Residence Pass-Talent long-term visa is now available for qualified foreign workers. In Japan, businesses are increasingly looking for mid-career hires and multilingual candidates with international experience, while embracing diversity.
In Australia, “we expect that businesses will have to rise to the challenge of sourcing candidates from overseas and becoming more diverse, as we see candidates remain in the workforce for longer due to our aging population,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia. “Skills shortages are also expected to continue to be an issue in certain sectors such as healthcare and IT.”
Malaysia: Welcoming Expats
“Fast growing sectors such as Business Process Outsourcing continue to see staff churn particularly amongst younger workers where there are rising expectations around pay and conditions,” says Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia and Singapore.
“Many employers will face the challenge of balancing staff retention and upward pressure on salaries with a need to contain costs as the global economy and China’s slowing rate of growth has an impact.”  
The top talent management trends in Malaysia this year revolve around expatriates, shortage of skills, rising salaries and women workers, among other issues.
Expats: The government is rolling out changes to its Immigration Department, including a new Expatriate Services Division to officially open in early 2013. Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T) status has been issued to 21 corporate leaders in “National Key Economic Area” sectors such as business services, oil and gas, financial services and education. This type of Malaysian visa allows people to work for up to 10 years and will be offered to expats with the right skills.
Skills shortage: Skills needed in Malaysia cover both white-collar and blue-collar roles. These include ICT and knowledge workers and those with finance skill sets, as well as building sector trades, particularly welders.
Staff turnover: The outsourcing sector is still seeing higher rates of staff churn than many others sectors and this is expected to continue this year. Many younger workers in this sector are increasingly mobile as they search for better pay and conditions in new job roles. The unemployment rate increased from 2.8% in mid-2012 to 3.4% for all of 2012, but is expected to hover around 3% in 2013.
Rising salaries: The deadline for businesses to comply with a minimum wage requirement passed on 1 January 2013. Overall, salaries are expected to see modest growth over the coming year, with the largest increases expected for a range of ‘in demand’ roles such as those in information and communication technology, some manufacturing jobs, engineering roles, banking and finance roles and jobs in the pharmaceutical sector.
Female workforce: The government has set a target of increasing female workforce participation to 55% by 2015 from about 47% currently. “Boosting the female workforce participation rates is a way of increasing productivity and addressing skills shortages,” says Mead. “However, Malaysia has a unique problem. Unlike other Asian countries where women leave the workforce to raise families and then return later in their lives, Malaysian women tend not to return.”
Social media: Malaysian job hunters, particularly Gen Y and Gen X, are increasingly comfortable using social media as part of their job search and personal branding efforts. Employers should therefore include social media as part of their recruitment mix, but should also consider seeking expert guidance to ensure they protect their brand and adequately test claims candidates make online.  
Japan: Inside Looking Out
Japan’s continuing push to look outside its borders for economic growth is changing the way businesses are sourcing and managing talent. This is expected to continue well into 2013 and beyond.
The top talent management trends in Japan this year revolve around multilingual skills, diversity, expat packages and contract workers, among other issues.
Multilingual skills: Demand for multilingual candidates remains strong, particularly for overseas sales and call centre/IT or Telco support roles. Even companies that have traditionally focused on the domestic market are beginning to look for staff who can communicate in foreign languages.
Diversity: In July 2012, the government set the goal to increase female workforce participation over the next eight years, backed by research projecting that this could boost GDP by up to 15%. Encouraging new mothers to return to work is a particular priority. At the same time, considering the ageing and shrinking population, age diversity is increasingly common and employers are considering older workers, as this talent pool grows.
Decline of the expat package: Expat packages are disappearing. Employers are instead offering local packages that include incentives such as career advancement opportunities and broader responsibility.
Contract workers: Employers are increasingly turning to contract workers in response to headcount budgets. The trend is to try out talent first before committing to a permanent hire. Candidates in 2013 will need to remain open to contract assignments.  
Training: In order to balance the ageing workforce, companies are training more junior candidates to close experience gaps. Employers are more focused on finding a candidate with the desire to learn, rather than on finding a perfect skills match.
Australia: Ageing Workforce
Employers in 2013 are expected to take a conservative approach to hiring following a year of redundancies and cost cutting. But overall, the Australian economy is expected to continue to grow by 3% in 2013, albeit more modestly than in 2012, before picking up pace towards the end of the year.
“HR professionals have had to become even more innovative and commercially driven, with a need to understand and address talent shortages in the new landscape in different ways,” says Deligiannis. “This means discovering where untapped sources of talent lie and evolving creative ways of attracting and identifying new talent.”
The top talent management trends in Australia this year revolve around skills shortage, wages, aging workforce, and social media and mobile technology, among other issues.
Skills shortage: High-skilled professionals in specific sectors remain in short supply going into 2013, such as healthcare professionals, particularly in the context of Australia’s aging population. Shortages of good quality candidates in accountancy in the professional practice space also remain, as well as in IT – the number of IT graduates has dropped by 5.3% over the last five years.
Wage pressure: The Hays Global Skills Index shows Australia has some upward wage pressures in both the overall economy and in high-skill industries. In demand candidates will be looking to be rewarded at a time when employers are trying to contain salary budgets. “We recommend using non-monetary rewards such as career development, flexible work options and extra training to make staff feel valued,” says Deligiannis.
Globalisation: Employers will need to capitalise on Australia’s strengths in a bid to attract quality international candidates. The Hays white paper, Tomorrow’s Workforce, shows the mobility of skilled professionals across borders will be the norm in tomorrow’s job market. Hays research also shows more than 70% of Australian candidates are open to working overseas, creating a need for local employers to become adept at global recruiting to fill the void.
Resources and mining: While many big operators have put new projects on hold until profit conditions improve, they are expected to expand existing operations to extract greater value from these investments. There is still a need for mining engineers and surveyors, senior processing professionals and fixed-plant maintenance and planning candidates. Also in demand are operational and technical skill sets associated with the extractive industries and qualified staff in accountancy and finance and other professional services.
Retention: Staff turnover is estimated to cost employers up to A$1 million per annum. Reducing churn by just 5% could result in a saving of A$280,000 a year for every 100 people employed.Employers are often blind to the cause of staff turnover. In 80% of cases, an employee chooses to leave due to the job itself, pay and conditions and/or work relationships – all issues employers can do something about.
Temporary workers: According to Hays research, more than 30% of Australia-based employers regard temporary workers as a key component of their long-term staffing strategy. “About 54% of employers see temporary workers as an ideal way to bring a particular expertise on board and 31% cent view contingent staffing as a strategic solution for the long term,” says Deligiannis. “We also expect employers will consider using temporary employees to get around hiring restrictions in the year to come.”
Diversity: Gender and age diversity are big issues in Australia. There are calls for quotas to improve female participation at line management, executive and board levels, and plans to raise the official retirement age from 65 to 67 by 2023. Employers must find innovative ways to recruit and manage multiple generations – Hays research predicts employers in Australia will be managing up to five generations under one roof by 2030.
Social media: “Engaging with the array of social media sites that potential jobseekers use gives organisations a means to boost and enhance their reputation as an employer of choice,” says Deligiannis. “However, employers need a clear strategy on how they address social media and present their brand. Just as it has the power to support and drive an employee value proposition, badly handled it can completely undermine those efforts.”
Mobile technology: Some researchpredicts that smartphones or mobile technology will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the Internet in 2013.Australians are already comfortable using smartphones to browse jobs, receive job alerts, view career information and update social media profiles. “Employers competing for talent, particularly the best young talent, need to keep smartphones and mobile technology in mind when developing recruitment campaigns and job ads,” says Deligiannis.
About the Author

Hays is a global specialist recruiting group that operates across the private and public sectors and deals in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. It was voted as Best Finance and Accounting Executive Recruiter at the CFO Innovation Awards 2012.  


Photo credit: shutterstock


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