2018 SSG overview image

The results of our Guide points to a range of opportunities for organisations to establish themselves as employers of choice in 2018.

For candidates too, our research provides ideas on how they can make their mark in 2018, but also provide advice on how they should manage their expectations around promotion and salary increases.

While employers may be forced to award signifi cant salary increases to keep or secure top talent in 2018, most indicate salary increases will again be fairly modest.

This year, we asked a new question to candidates which was, ‘Do you believe your current skills will still be in demand five years from now.’

Malaysians are the most confident in the region that their current skills will still be in demand in five years time (67 per cent) but 23 per cent are unsure. Singaporeans were the next most confident (66 per cent) with just over a quarter unsure.

Candidates in Japan were the opposite with 56 per cent not at all confident their skills of today would be current in five years time. Another 33 per cent were confident and 11 per cent were unsure.

In Hong Kong, 48 per cent of respondents are confident their skills will stand the five-year test while a third lack confidence and nearly 19 per cent are unsure. In Mainland China, 53 percent are confident but more than a third are unsure.

We note that our research this year also shows candidates are spending more of their personal time doing unpaid extra hours (except in Japan where the number of paid hours has risen) and less of their time on professional development.

Reading through the individual commentaries, it is clear that skills and industries can go from ‘hot to cold’ in the space of a few years. Our advice to candidates is to make sure any confidence they place in the sustainability of their skill sets is based on solid research and a willingness to up-skill long before they need to find a new career path.

For example, in Malaysia digital technology hubs are booming while oil and gas continues to languish. In Japan and Mainland China, the auto industry predicts petrol and diesel designs could be a thing of the past in favour of electric-powered vehicles in just seven years. And in several countries, the roles of office professionals are changing quickly to new demands from being able to speak multi-languages to acting as a business partner to the organisation they work for. Our Guide is testament to how dynamic Asia’s labour market continues to be.

We are pleased to see that the majority of our employer respondents across all countries expect increased business activity in the year ahead. A new question we posed to employers this year asked ‘how confident they were about recruiting candidates with the skills they need in the next 12 months.

A massive 74 per cent of employers in Mainland China are confident they will secure the skills they need with only 16 per cent not very confident. Japanese respondents are evenly split with 44 per cent confident and the same amount not very confident. In Malaysia, 59 percent of respondents are confident of hiring in the skills they need with 59 per cent providing that answer in Singapore and 54 per cent in Hong Kong.

However, when asked if skill shortages would impact businesses this year, the vast majority of respondents answered in the affirmative with only the degree of impact differing from one country to another.

It would appear that most industries are sensitive to attrition rates and losing top talent to competitors in 2018. Candidates in Malaysia appear the most restless with 48 per cent of respondents currently looking for a new job and 35 per cent planning a move within six months.

Our research provides little comfort to employers in candidate-short Japan where 38 per cent of our respondents are now hunting for a new role and 36 per plan a move within six months.

Candidates from Mainland China are the least likely to be looking for a new role with only 19 per cent looking to move jobs within the next six months – a big drop from the 27 per cent surveyed last year.

Money still rules in the Asian region. Salary is the key reason the majority of respondents (61 per cent) are leaving their employer (unchanged from last year).

Other key drivers for job hunting are lack of career progression (47 per cent), seeking new challenges (47 per cent) and the management style and company culture (35 per cent).

Our research provides great insights on where salaries are headed in 2018, but also opportunities for employers to develop non-financial benefits that will help them keep talent.

For example, 36 per cent of respondents are unsure about what scope exists in their organisation to grow their career. A further 37 per cent of respondents believe they have room to grow in their current organisation and 27 per cent say they do not.

We know from our research that career pathways and career development are important to candidates when deciding to stay or leave a job and when weighing up a new career opportunity.

When it comes to retention, the top reason nominated by respondents for staying with a current employer (40 per cent) was work life balance. The risk for employers in our research is that candidates have told us they are putting in more hours at work.

Rounding out the top three reasons employees stay were salary (39 per cent) and job security (33 per cent). Here again, there is a risk and an opportunity for employers.

Job security is something few employers can offer these days, but our research points to the need for employers to focus on what they can deliver including career pathways, flexible work options and strengthening the capabilities of people managers.