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Asian Employers Cautious About Hiring in 2024

Major markets in the region have experienced challenges over the last year, including issues related to their aging workforces, digital transformation in response to AI, hiring freezes, and surging labour costs.

By Maggie Mancini

Amid global economic uncertainty, the HAYS Asia Salary Guide finds that distinct patterns of confidence have emerged across various markets in APAC. China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, and Singapore are cautious and less-than-enthusiastic about the next 12 months. This apprehension is largely based on supply chain issues, currency fluctuations, and a shifting regional landscape that will likely result in cost-cutting measures.  

In markets like Malaysia, where 59.6% of employers are either “quite” or “very” optimistic about the economic climate and employment opportunities over the next several years, emerge as potential beneficiaries of strategic corporate decisions.  

Employers have largely adopted a conservative outlook on hiring, with hiring freezes and restructuring initiatives becoming more common throughout the APAC region, particularly in places like China, Singapore, and Thailand. Japan faces a unique challenge stemming from its aging workforce, as well.  

Some of the key findings from the report are below.  

  • The top five challenges Chinese organisations faced in 2023 include hiring freezes (40.8%); digital transformation (34%); downsizing (31.7%); change in required skill sets (30%); soaring labour costs (27.2%); and restructuring (22.3, down from 64.3% in 2022).  
  • For Hong Kong SAR, these challenges include digital transformation (36.9%); soaring labour costs (32.6%); hiring freezes (32.1%); restructuring (28.9, down from 44.3%); and an aging workforce.  
  • In Japan, the top workforce challenges in 2023 include its aging workforce (35.1%); soaring labour costs (33.3%); restructuring (33%, down from 63.4%); digital transformation (28.3%); and requirement for a more flexible workforce (25.1%).  
  • In Malaysia, these challenges include digital transformation (49.7%); restructuring (44.9%, down from 52%); hiring freezes (36.2%); soaring labour costs (35.1%); and requirements for a more flexible workforce (31.3%).  
  • The top challenges in Singapore in 2023 included hiring freezes (39.3%); digital transformation (39.3%); soaring labour costs (38.7%); restructuring (38.1%); and the need for a more flexible workforce (27.4%).  
  • In Thailand, the top issues are restructuring (43%); digital transformation (41.8%); hiring freezes (31.6%); changes in required skill sets (29.1%); and an aging workforce (26.6%).  
Tags: APAC April 2024, APAC News

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