DEMAND for technical skills in Thailand and Southeast Asia, particularly in information technology (IT), and international experience will be highly sought after, according to the newly released annual Salary Survey from specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters, which discusses recruitment disciplines during 2017 and predictions for the year ahead.
Notwithstanding the fact that the region is comprised of varied country settings, there is a common theme apparent with regard to digitalisation, which has continued to be a key priority across most markets. The survey noted that this is mainly driven by the growing size of younger populations and increased consumerism.
Toby Fowlston, Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Robert Walters said that the digitalisation trend that is sweeping the region has spurred many businesses to create online or mobile platforms as companies seek to enhance their competitiveness and increase market share with the consumers. As a result of these transformations, many companies were looking to hire professionals with digital expertise, across both marketing and information technology (IT), especially those who are proficient in running back office digital infrastructure or with niche technology skills.”
“In addition, IT professionals in the areas of cloud computing, cyber security and big data were also in demand as these IT sub-sectors became key growth areas, and this trend is expected to continue in 2018,” added Fowlston.
The survey also noted that this focus on business transformation to digital platform had also helped to trigger demand for human resource (HR) professionals with change management experience, especially those with proven ability in managing cultural transformation.
However, the region had faced challenges in terms of talent attraction and retention due to talent shortages and high staff turnover rates. Hiring managers are advised to look at simplifying and streamlining their recruitment process to ensure timely hires, and be flexible in hiring candidates with learning potential instead of purely for their technical skills.
Overall, on a country level, Thailand’s job market remained steady in 2017, especially for mid-level management positions. A generally more stable economy and a range of foreign investments led to growth in various industrial sectors, including manufacturing, with particular demand for manufacturing managers, as well as plant managers and directors.
Growing market competition saw a demand for high potential marketing and sales managers in the retail sectors, while increased digitalisation saw hiring levels for IT professionals remain steady, although the limited pool of talent in the sector saw more recruiting of foreign candidates with regional backgrounds and technical expertise.
In 2018, hiring is expected to remain stable, and while certain variables exist in the market, the climate in general is seen as positive. Candidates with proven expertise in people management, who have commercial acumen and are expert in multiple languages, will be in particular high demand. Hiring managers are going to need to make their employer proposition as attractive as possible to secure the most in-demand candidates, and they will need to ensure that that their salaries and benefits packages are truly competitive.
Accounting and finance recruitment is expected to be quite strong as more companies are looking to bring on professionals who not only are technically proficient, but also able to contribute to the business strategically and aid in long-term expansion. At the same time, in the banking sector, hiring is likely to be more cautious, due to a somewhat uncertain economic climate, and recruitment is seen as being slow. In the human resources area, though, demand continues to be high across the board, as talent availability remains tight.
For IT, 2017 was an active year, and it is expected that 2018 will continue to see high demand for professionals with both solid technical and leadership skills. Senior staff who are comfortable with new technologies while at the same time able to guide top management in making executive decisions will be in high demand. This is especially true in light of the high number of transformation projects taking place in Thailand at this time.
In sales and marketing, candidates with change management experience will be sought after as firms continue to reorganise their structures and make their teams leaner, reducing costs.
Those with both strong English capabilities and academic backgrounds will be especially sought after.
Younger candidates will be in particular demand among new market entrants and online businesses in accounting and finance, with 25 – 30 per cent salary increments likely in these sectors;
Employers will find it challenging to hire qualified experienced mid-level professionals in the banking and financial services sectors, with pay raises of 18-20 per cent expected;
In the human resources sector there will be a high demand for senior professionals, and these candidates can expect large salary increments as they move jobs;
Supply chain recruitment activity had been slow earlier in 2017 but has picked up, with the areas of e-commerce, food, and building materials seen as offering candidates solid increments 25 – 30 per cent for certain, high demand positions;
In the engineering and manufacturing industries, those with expertise in quality assurance management will be what businesses are looking for.