A skills shortage continues to plague Asian businesses, prompting many employers to use higher salaries and comprehensive training programmes to attract the talent they need, a new Hudson study has revealed.
Released last week, the third-quarter study examines the expectations of key employment decision-makers from multinational organisations in major industry sectors in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Employers were polled on their expectations of an increase or decrease in staffing levels, as well as on their optimism as regards the growth of their organisation and the overall industry.
In a statement, Gina McLellan, Hudson's country manager in Hong Kong, said that a shortage of candidates with the required skills formed the biggest challenge for Asian employers looking to refresh or expand their organisational head count.
McLellan noted that, in each of the markets, 38 percent of the respondents reported the skills shortage as their biggest problem. Salary inflation was seen as the second most significant challenge, mentioned by 22 percent of the respondents.
China, by a small margin, was shown to have the highest number of respondents — 39 percent — who reported the skills shortage as the greatest challenge. Salary inflation was cited as a challenge by 17 percent of Chinese respondents.
In Hong Kong, the skills shortage is particularly severe in the IT and manufacturing sectors, with 45 percent and 44 percent of respondents mentioning it respectively.
Japan's skills-shortage woes were strongly felt in the manufacturing and legal sectors, with 50 percent and 40 percent respectively mentioning this challenge.
Singapore, which is facing salary-inflation pressures and rising rental costs, had the highest proportion of respondents — 22 percent — saying that pay increases were the main recruitment challenge.
McLellan also observed that, to counter skills-shortage problems, an increasing number of respondents, particularly those in candidate-short markets, were open to offering candidates a higher salary.
According to Hudson's study, higher salaries and training programmes were the most popular measures used by recruiters in China, cited by 28 percent and 26 percent of respondents respectively.
Offering higher salaries also proved a popular tactic for employers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Across all sectors, 29 percent of the respondents in Hong Kong said they used higher salaries to attract top talent. Meanwhile, 27 percent of Singapore respondents said they used higher salaries to bait candidates, while 21 percent cited training programmes.
Japan reported the lowest figure: 16 percent of Japanese respondents claimed their company used higher pay to attract suitable jobseekers.
Farihan Bahrin is a freelance IT writer based in Singapore.