Here is an update on the talent crunch situation in the region and the various push-pull factors polarizing employers and workers

The two-year-long global talent crunch is not a new phenomenon, particularly for more developed economies in the region such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, which in recent decades have relied on international talent to stay ahead economically. 

Charles Ferguson, General Manager, APAC, Globalization Partners

In response, the Australian government has announced it would increase its intake of permanent immigrants this year by 35,000. These numbers underline the urgency in sourcing talent to support the country’s economic growth. 

Similarly, Japan and South Korea are struggling with a similar talent scarcity exacerbated by declining birth rates and aging populations. The latter country is striving to match education and training with evolving job skills and requirements in the digital economy.

Singapore, faced with a possible shortage of 1.1m highly skilled workers by 2030 (according to some studies), has had to continuously invest in workforce upskilling and reskilling, and has continued to fine-tune manpower policies to attract foreign talent. 

Addressing the Great Resignation/Quiet Quitting

While these Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) economies have enjoyed great success in attracting international talent in the last few decades, the COVID-19 pandemic had thrown a wrench into the gear works.

Due to the empowerment of hybrid- and remote- working, workforces have become more widely distributed and marketable, thereby motivating more talent to switch jobs and careers to adapt to the pandemic era. The much-dreaded “Great Resignation” and to a lesser extent “Quiet Quitting” movements have put pressure on employers to stem the tide.

While government initiatives play a significant part in talent attraction on a macro scale, in the short time employers are the frontline tasked with retaining and acquiring workers amid the chaos of the Great Reset.

Many firms have raised salaries as their key talent retention strategy, but ongoing socio-economic phenomena are blunting this approach. After multiple global lockdowns, career aspirations and job priorities have changed. Employ values are shifting: gone are the days when pay raises and promotions are the yardstick for career success.

The right culture attracts the right talent
The pandemic-era employee now prioritizes freedom and flexibility, with specific hybrid/remote-work arrangements being the preference.

Technological advances and work process automation—coupled with years of work-from-home/anywhere challenges—have redefined how people perceive a career and work environment. Employees are now in a position to demand flexibility around when or where they work—as long as they deliver results. Remote-working and remote-hiring have become practical alternatives to address the current talent gap, and it is going to be a fixture in human resource management.

Furthermore, employees now have the clout to pick-and-choose workplaces that resonate with their own values and cultural preferences. Leadership style, work-life harmony, workplace fairness and inclusiveness, and flexible career progression now rank just as high, if not higher than, financial rewards and perks.

It is therefore time for more public-private sector consultation and collaboration in the region to identify and rework new ways to attract and retain distributed workforces in a holistic and sustainable manner.