Closing off 2023: Key trends impacting the APAC Labour Market

RSIntelligence  •  15 November 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, the labour market in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region unfurls a captivating tale of transformation, challenges, and opportunity. The recently released Global Service Location Index (GSLI) for 2023 underscores the region's prominence, with APAC nations securing an impressive 8 out of the top 15 positions.

In the GSLI 2023 report by Kearney, APAC asserts its dominance, with India, China, and Malaysia leading the pack. Their cost-effectiveness, robust talent pool, and skilful workforce positions them as global service leaders. Notably, Singapore has made a spectacular leap in the rankings, rising by 24 positions, making it the most significant advancement among all countries.

We uncover the treasure trove of insights revealing the ever-evolving dynamics, intriguing challenges, and promising opportunities that define the Asia-Pacific region. In each nation's unique context, a new chapter is being added to the vibrant tapestry of the APAC labour landscape, creating a story of diversity and vitality.

Shifts in Hiring Dynamics:

Hiring has witnessed a slowdown across major APAC markets, with Singapore and India facing notable declines of 28% and 23%, respectively. Australia and Indonesia also reported drops of 17% and 15% year-on-year. Candidates' behaviour reflects a cooling labour market, with a preference for employers. Australia and Singapore lead with the highest number of job applications per applicant. Anticipated recovery in pre-pandemic wage levels is on the horizon, while positive trends emerge in sectors such as construction, heavy engineering, and automobiles.

Technology and transformation:

From Hong Kong to India, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to impact a significant portion of the workforce in the next five years, emphasising the need for reskilling and adaptation. In Thailand and South Korea, the demand for roles related to digital transformation underscores the region's shift toward tech-driven innovation. However, these technological advancements coexist with concerns such as labour shortages and high inflation, as seen in Laos. This dual challenge amplifies the urgency to find innovative solutions in a constrained environment.

A focus on skill development:

With initiatives to upskill the workforce taking centre stage, the Department of Labour and Employment (DoLE), in the Philippines, is actively launching programmes to enhance workforce skills, while Indonesia anticipates the need for digital competency training for millions of its citizens in the coming year.

In Singapore and India, the growing demand for tech capabilities, including cybersecurity, software development, machine learning, IoT, and cloud computing, underlines the significance of niche expertise in the evolving job market.

Data-driven decision-making:

Malaysia's HR professionals are harnessing analytics tools and technology to understand candidate behaviour, optimise talent pools, and enhance job advertising. Such practises reflect a broader shift in the region toward precision in recruitment. Vietnam shifts focus towards promoting a lean personnel structure. 

Labour mobility:

South Korea is planning to significantly increase the issuance of visas for foreign skilled workers, a move aimed at addressing specific workforce needs and promoting diversity. China is focused on creating urban jobs while maintaining a steady jobless rate, reflecting a balance between growth and stability. 

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG):

A growing awareness of ESG as reflected in the surging demand for ESG-related jobs in India. With a remarkable 223% surge in ESG-related job opportunities, and simultaneously, job seekers are increasingly drawn to sustainability roles, showing a substantial 31% increase in searches. This surge in both job postings and job seekers' interest highlights a growing demand for ESG professionals, fuelled by consumer expectations and a drive to enhance corporate reputations.

The APAC labour market, produced by RSIntelligence, is a captivating blend of resilience, innovation, and adaptation, as the region continues to play a pivotal role in the global economy, it presents both challenges and opportunities for job seekers, businesses, and policymakers. While certain markets are recovering, others are embracing technological advancements and upskilling initiatives. The path ahead is marked by diversity, making the APAC region an exciting and dynamic force in the world of work.

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