‘Skills gap a major challenge’ for SE Asia
DESPITE ENJOYING strong growth in investments, leading to greater demand for workforce and talent, Southeast Asia is still confronting many challenges ahead for the development of local talents, according to the CEO of Adecco Group.
Alain Dehaze, chief executive officer of Adecco Group, said that Southeast Asia has an advantage in having a large labour force. Demographic dividends also exist in most of the economies. However, there are pockets of skills gaps, especially in the areas of IT and engineering.
“The workforce mobility in Southeast Asia, especially for skilled talents, is lower than in other parts of the world. The human resources industry can sometimes be less sophisticated than in other countries. Labour is unorganised in many economies in the region, such as India and Indonesia,” he said.
Dehaze said that Southeast Asia faces increasing demand but also workforce shortage in many careers, especially in IT, digital, healthcare, analytics, automation and robotics.
“People skills as services have become increasingly important. The shortage of talent is a situation and organisations need to do careful talent planning. When organisations cannot hire full-time employees, they need to consider part-time and temporary solutions to help bridge the gaps. This is the key to keep productivity high.
“The challenge is that HR function will become increasingly important to companies for their overall success. Talent is a real differentiator. Companies will need to manage their human capital as well as their financial capital. They need to embrace diversity and inclusion to tap into a larger talent pool. Older workers and foreign talent are very important,” said Dehaze. “Companies need to adopt progressive HR practices to integrate multi-generations at work, and to leverage workforce flexibility through a mix of contingent, freelance and open-ended contracts. They should take a more data-driven approach to talent management,” Dehaze added.
“Some countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, need greater cooperation between governments, academia and businesses – especially to ensure that the right skills needed in the workplace are being taught by the academic institutions. The countries also need to further enhance ease of intra-region workforce mobility, especially for skilled talents, and the development of common training and recognition frameworks in the region for a wide range of occupations and industries. Such regulatory frameworks also need to be business friendly, and employment policies should combine flexibility and social protection,” he said.
Dehaze said the education systems in the region needed to focus more on employability and continuous learning.
“Vocational education and training is critical – but we know that this will take some time to become popular. Schools also need to teach how to be comfortable with change, how to be resilient since the future world of work will require us to constantly reinvent our careers. They require imparting skills on how to make sense of all the information, how to identify what is important and what is not, ie, critical-thinking and decision-making.”