While economic conditions varied in 2017, most markets experienced at least modest growth which boosted hiring and led to candidate shortages in certain sectors. The most significant change was in Europe as the continent’s economy and job market began to grow again following ten years of stagnation.
Digitalisation drives on
As in previous years the trend towards digitalisation meant that professionals with digital expertise were in high demand across the globe. In South East Asia this was fuelled by increasing consumerism and a rapidly growing younger population leading to demand for digital marketing and IT experts capable of running online and mobile platforms.
Cyber security and Fintech were noticeable growth sectors and demand for big data specialists continued at pace as companies sought to implement new systems to benefit from the insights afforded by big data. Tech startups were active recruiters in London, San Francisco and Dublin often competing against larger, more traditional companies by offering candidates equity stakes in the business.
Digital transformation projects in Europe and Greater China will continue to drive competition for the best digital candidates in 2018. We also expect to see serious digital talent shortages in Portugal in 2018 as it continues to grow as one of Europe’s ‘tech hubs’.
Specialists sought to create the future
AI and machine learning will be ongoing growth areas in 2018, particularly in Australia, New Zealand and USA, creating strong competition for top talent. Likewise, professionals experienced in virtual reality, augmented reality and robotics will be highly sought after by tech companies with product designers and data scientists in particularly high demand in 2018. In Japan the shortage of bilingual AI and IoT specialists will continue.
Regulatory and compliance skillsets in demand
Banks and financial services firms continued to bear the brunt of heavier regulation resulting in strong demand for regulatory and compliance skillsets along with risk, audit and legal. Ireland and France in particular saw high demand for compliance professionals. However, in Singapore and UK hiring by banks and financial services firms was muted outside of these skillsets.
In 2018 we expect to see sustained demand for regulatory and compliance professionals along with salary increases for these sought-after professionals.
Nearshoring proves popular strategy
Employers sought to lure top talent out of the cities to outlying areas with competitive salaries, easier commutes and lower cost of living, thereby shrinking the talent pool in major cities. This in turn led to candidate shortages in the UK, US and parts of Europe such as Belgium. Meanwhile the banking sector in Singapore saw conservative hiring levels as nearshoring and offshoring increased along with other cost-cutting initiatives.
Companies seek out local talent
Of particular note was the widespread drive towards hiring and developing local talent and attracting overseas nationals back home. We saw this across multiple markets including South East Asia, UAE, South Africa and Switzerland. Companies were keen to attract professionals fluent in the culture and language but also possessing much sought after international experience. These candidates were able to command higher salaries and we expect this to continue in 2018. Likewise Australia experienced a strong focus on hiring local talent as the government tightened visa regulations for highly skilled migrants.
In addition, highly skilled bilingual professionals with international experience will continue to be highly sought after in 2018 especially in China and Japan.
Attracting top talent
For those facing candidate shortages our advice is to be flexible and consider hiring professionals with transferable skills even if they are not an exact fit for the job description. It’s also vital for companies to streamline their recruitment processes making them efficient and timely to avoid losing top talent to competitors. Employers should also be aware that salary alone will not attract top-calibre candidates as they are increasingly motivated by work-life balance, company culture, structured career progression and flexible working.
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