Decoding Southeast Asia’s job market in 2023, HRSEA News, ETHRWorldSEA

Despite layoffs and employability issues, growth in Southeast Asia has shown resilience in the face of global uncertainty. Many significant economies in Southeast Asia, notably Philippines and Singapore, continue to report low unemployment rates despite the general economic unrest in the world. In addition, LinkedIn data shows an increase in job posts in a variety of areas, suggesting that businesses in these sectors will continue to compete for the finest talent.

This article examines the current state of Southeast Asia’s job market and highlights the challenges the region is facing.

Economic Recovery and workforce labour participation

As per the WEF’s The Future of Jobs Report 2023, compared to the global average of 23%, Singapore’s employment market will experience a churn of 21%.
Only 50% of Singaporean employees feel secure in their jobs, according to Employment Hero’s 2023 Talent Insights survey.
In Singapore, while employment increased by 2.9 percent, the number of people in the labour force decreased by 12.0. The labour force participation rate increased from 69.2 per cent to 69.9 per cent during the same period in 2022.

Here is a quick snapshot of region-wise economic participation rate:

In the Philippines, the employment rate remained constant from March to April, remaining at 95.30 per cent. The unemployment rate in Indonesia was up by 2.23 per cent in the first quarter of 2023. The most recent figures made available by BPS-Statistics Indonesia show that Indonesia’s economy is continuing to grow strongly. Amidst a global economic slowdown, the fourth quarter of 2022 saw robust national economic growth of 5.01% (yoy). Thus, Indonesia’s overall domestic economic growth in 2022 was 5.31% (yoy), a major increase from 3.70% (yoy) in 2021.
Whereas, Thailand’s Unemployment Rate remained the same at 1.03% in Apr 2023, from the previously reported figure of 1.03% in Mar 2023. The World Bank predicts that due to higher-than-anticipated demand from China, Europe, and the United States, rising private spending, and a rebound in tourism, Thailand’s GDP would rise to 3.9 per cent in 2023 from 2.6 per cent last year.

Addressing the gender gap issueWhen it comes to wages for similar work, Singapore has closed 78.3% of the gender pay gap.

In the Philippines, according to data from LinkedIn, women make up just 36.3%, or more than 3 in 10, of the workforce in the Philippines, where they are underrepresented in STEM fields. According to LinkedIn, this makes the STEM gender gap in the Philippines the largest in the Asia Pacific area. Women made up 58.8% of the workforce in non-STEM sectors in the Philippines, but only 36.3% in STEM.

In Malaysia, according to recent data from the Statistics Department’s Salaries and Wages Report, the median monthly income for women in Malaysia was RM2,145 compared to RM2,315 for men.

Even though Thailand has made strides towards gender equality, lingering disparities nevertheless impede progress and socioeconomic expansion. Women only make up 59% of the labour force, compared to 75% of men. Additionally, women continue to devote 3.2 times as much time to unpaid domestic and caregiving tasks as do males.

Southeast Asia’s remote work revolution

According to a study by Buffer, out of the total respondents, 40% of respondents identified as digital nomads and 99% of respondents wanted to work remotely at least occasionally.

Southeast Asia is a major region in the world of remote work, according to the 2023 Nomad List, which ranks the top locations for digital nomads based on variables including cost of living, internet speed, and overall quality of life. In fact, half of the top 10 cities in the world for digital nomads are in this area, including Da Nang, Vietnam (#9), Canggu, Bali, Indonesia (#6), and Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia (#8), Bangkok, Thailand (#2), and Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand (#3). Significant changes have been made to the future of remote work in Southeast Asia, and government measures are progressively supporting it. Governments in the area are recognising the potential benefits and putting policies in place to accommodate this expanding demographic as the digital nomad community grows.

Bottom line: Overcoming the talent crunch

In order to remain competitive in the hiring market and draw in potential employees, businesses must offer specialised and flexible perks, according to a Mednefits poll of 200 human resource professionals in Malaysia and Singapore. According to a Jobstreet survey, the job market in the Philippines is more active than the global average, with 87% of respondents there reporting that they are approached with job offers several times annually, compared to 75% globally. It can be difficult for many firms to transition away from traditional benefits in order to reduce costs, offer flexible benefits, and give broader coverage.

In the end, the talent war Southeast Asia is going through requires businesses to find a method to stand out from the competition and draw in the top talent. To increase employee attractiveness and engagement, employers must make the appropriate adjustments to the corporate culture, hiring practices, and work environment.

    • Published On Jul 12, 2023 at 06:11 AM IST

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