With over half of 2019 having already passed us by, recruiters might be starting to refocus their efforts for the latter half of the year around top hiring trends in Asia. What the year to date has made clear is that Asia remains an exciting region for international business, with executives in certain emerging and established industries continuing to battle through political tensions and trade disputes to reach all time highs in their growth. What, though, has 2019 revealed so far about hiring trends in Asia and what should recruiters keep in mind as we progress ever closer to 2020?

Sales is (still) king

In 2018, sales topped the list of in-demand roles in Asia, according to a Hays survey of over 3000 Asian companies. In some respects, this is no surprise. Asia has seen vast growth in a number of sectors in recent years and that growth will have created ever more opportunities for sales experts to shine. 

Unquestionably, the demand for salespeople is still present in 2019. The early months of 2019 saw incredible growth in digital industries in Asia (helped no doubt by the fact that many westerners see Asia – particularly Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam – as the perfect home for digital nomadism and entrepreneurship) and this has supercharged the demand for great sales people. 

As companies both inside and outside of the digital industries look forward to the late months of 2019 and early months of 2020, there is no doubt that they will be seeking help in recruiting expert sales people from local workforces as well as foreign ones.

Technology is (still) booming

A May 2018 Regional Economic Outlook report for Asia from the International Monetary Fund revealed that in order for Asian countries to continue to take advantage of technological developments and the boom in business that accompanies them, there would need to be sustained improvements in the underlying governmental policies on information and communication technology, trade, labor markets, and education. 

The good news is that regulators and policy-makers appear to have risen to this challenge in key areas, as there remain significant advancements and new opportunities in this area. 

Certain countries in Asia – particularly the Philippines – are seeing enormous growth in the number of work-from-home opportunities, which in turn is opening up investment opportunities for foreign businesses that can facilitate this new working arrangement (especially in the B2C software, SaaS, and payment processing spaces). 

Other technology-related areas that continue to demand top talent include mobile and handheld device manufacturing, artificial intelligence engineering, software design, and wireless technology development.

The working environment is (still) shifting

In recent years, several countries in Asia have sought to modernize and improve their regulatory environment to encourage foreign investment. Perhaps the most visible and widely talked about of these changes has been the loosening of Chinese government restrictions on foreign investment (notably implemented through China’s Negative List), but other countries too have made major changes. 

The changes in some countries have been so positive, in fact, that huge multinational companies have moved their headquarters there. James Dyson – the famous vacuum cleaner engineer – announced that he was moving his multi-billion dollar engineering and technology company to Singapore in early 2019 and in part, that is because the Singaporean markets facilitate foreign investment and represent solid growth potential.

For recruiters in large and small companies, these continuous improvements are good news, as it makes expansion into Asian markets ever-easier and increases the demand for top talent in Asia.

Where next for recruitment experts in Asia?

What is remarkable about the main recruitment trends seen in Asia in the first half of 2019 is that they are all – in some form or another – continuations of trends that we have already seen in recent years. 

That is not to say that nothing new is happening in Asia, but rather to stress that the trends we are seeing are reliable and, ostensibly, predictable. This is beneficial for recruiters, as it means that they can continue to adapt and improve their recruitment strategies to capitalize on key growth areas and markets.