The Asia Jobs Market Update: 2014
The largest continent on earth, Asia comprises nearly 30% of the world’s landmass. With a great deal of diversity as well, the region is home to some of the most economically competitive states/ nations – Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Japan, as well as the most rapidly improving economies – Indonesia and the Philippines.
2014 is being dubbed the ‘Year of the Middle-Income Country’ and the IMG predicts that Asian countries will continue to make steady gains this year. The liberalisation of trade barriers (as evidenced by the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone) and the continuing increase in middle-class and high-net-worth consumers is highly favourable for the Asia Job Market. The region as a whole will experience 5.25% growth this year.
The best countries to be in
Singapore continues to be one of the most liveable and versatile cities in Asia. The state has demonstrated it can easily adapt to changing environments. With world-class infrastructure consisting of excellent roads, ports, and air transport facilities, Singapore remains an important hub. Overall hiring activity in Singapore is expected to increase in 2014, giving employees more options in the job market.
A survey by recruitment company JobStreet.com has found that 94% of employers in Singapore plan to give up to two months’ salary worth of bonuses to employees, and 22% intend to give a higher increment in 2014. The average bonus is expected to be of one month’s salary.
The economic policies of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – also known as ‘Abenomics’ – have reignited the nation’s lagging growth. High R&D spending, availability of talent, world-class research institutions, and capacity to innovate, are among Japan’s strengths. The country continues to enjoy a major competitive edge in business sophistication and innovation.
That being said, Japan’s labour force still declined to 65 million in January 2014 from a peak of 69 million in June 1997. In a quarterly Bank of Japan survey, small services companies have reported the lowest level of availability of workers since 1992. Japan is seeing surging demand for skilled talent from companies in finance, construction and Information Technology (IT). These sectors could be the key to your career growth if you head to Japan this year.
China’s structural changes are expected to move it to a more sustainable growth plane, with growth forecast at 7.3% in 2014. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has consolidated its position among the 10 most competitive economies. Hong Kong tops in infrastructure, reflecting outstanding quality across all modes of transportation; it also dominates the financial market, owing to the high level of efficiency, trustworthiness, and stability the region offers.
Best sectors for growth
Health and Productivity
Although health and productivity (H&P) is a relatively new phenomenon in Asia, the inaugural Staying@Work survey shows that it is already a high priority for employers in this continent. Over half (58%) of Asian respondents to the survey said that H&P is essential to their organisational health strategy, and almost three-quarters (71%) plan to increase their support of H&P programs over the next two years. Companies and consultants operating in this space will see increased demand for their services and, consequently, an upsurge in hiring for skilled positions in this field.
Tokyo is expected to be the strongest market in Asia for real estate, according to Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2014. The positive outlook for many Asian markets is highlighted by the re-emergence of Japan as a favoured market for investment and development. Singapore will also remain a favoured market in Asia for real estate investment and development in 2014.
The increasing individual wealth and ageing population in Asia have created opportunities for insurers to introduce new products to consumers who wish to protect their hard-earned financial and physical assets. Demand for health insurance is expected to rise for several reasons: the ageing population, strain on public resources, and rising consumer affluence. Currently, 10% of the population in Asia is over 65 years old, but that number is expected to double within the next three decades, creating a need for various insurance solutions. If you work in insurance, you will see a multitude of opportunities emerging in Asia for your skills and talents.
2014 is expected to be an exciting year for healthcare. Total healthcare spending in Asia Pacific (APAC) was estimated at about $1.34 trillion in 2013 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.5% over the next five years to reach $2.21 trillion in 2018. Demand for healthcare professionals is on the rise, all over the globe, but particularly so in key economies in Asia.
Skills in demand
Technology will no longer sit within the domain of the Chief Technology Officer. As the technology, marketing, and finance worlds integrate, it will become more and more important to find people who can move across all 3 sectors, with multilevel, hybrid knowledge. Marketing and finance professionals will need to enhance their technology skills to remain competitive in the Asian jobs market. At the same time, transaction banking will continue to drive growth for many local and regional banks.
Finance professionals are in high demand everywhere. Candidates proficient in audit, compliance and risk are also highly sought-after. There is strong demand for junior and mid-level positions in these fields. Most in-demand skills include internal audit, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and financial analysis.
High-calibre people are likely to receive multiple job offers and command high salaries with increments of up to 25-35% on their current base salary.
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Best pay prospects
Speaking of compensation, salaries across Asia-Pacific are set to rise by an average 7% in 2014. In India, wages are set to rise by 11%, but high inflation in the country will erode this to around 2%. Salaries in China are forecast to rise 8.5% and in Vietnam, 11.5%. Elsewhere in the region, salaries in Hong Kong and Singapore are set to rise by 4.5% and in Japan by 2.3%.
Those working in the financial services sector can look forward to increases averaging 6.2% across the region, compared to 5.7% in 2013.
Salaries for senior management executives are up to 14% higher in Hong Kong, because of a shortage of talent at management level. This means that top-level pay in China is comparable to that elsewhere in the world. Salaries for top management executives are also a whopping 34% higher in Singapore than in Hong Kong.
What to expect as an expat
If you are applying for a job in Asia, an international outlook is valued. Your experience in developed markets will bring you good opportunities with offers of high salaries and benefits. Mid-level professionals willing to travel and relocate and who have exposure to emerging or growing markets such as in Myanmar or China are sought-after. As more multinationals regard Asia as the centre of growth, professionals have the ability to provide strong and practical insights as well as on-ground knowledge to global management.
The overall environment in Asia is extremely dynamic, and while differences remain between the countries themselves that form this region, there are many opportunities waiting on this continent.
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