2020 Outlook: Top talent trends in Asia Pacific

2020 is set to be a year of change in the Asia Pacific as countries face different sets of challenges in the economic and talent market. Here are the top talent trends to look out for.
By: | December 27, 2019

While every country faces their own sets of economic and talent challenges, there is one thing that will continue to transform the Asia Pacific in 2020 – Digitalisation.

The wave of digital transformation, automation and technology is set to grow even stronger in 2020 as we will see an increasing demand of digital and technology professionals to spearhead Asia Pacific’s adoption of new technology.

HRM Asia takes a deeper look at what are the different talent trends for Asia Pacific in the new year.


Automation, E-Payment

As Singapore continues its journey towards digitalisation and automation, traditional and manual jobs are expected to feel the brunt of the transformation, according to recruitment firm Hays. Needless to say, technology jobs will be in high demand especially in the areas of software engineering, user experience, cloud engineering and data analytics while there will also be a rise in hybrid roles such as business intelligence/analyst positions that merge insights, analytics and marketing functions.

Meanwhile, back-end roles will also feel the impact of automation which will see the restructuring and transferring of roles, as well as the creation of new job titles.

Another sector to watch out for is e-payment, which has seen more players entering the market thanks to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s unveiling of digital banking licenses to include non-banking players.


Digitalisation, Re-industralisation 

Like Singapore, digitalisation and automation will have the biggest impact in its job market especially traditional roles that involve high levels of simple repetition, such as finance data entry roles which are at high risk of becoming redundant.

Digital professionals in the areas of data analytics, cyber security and IT regulations will be highly sought after while those in HR and marketing will need to up their digital knowledge and skillsets in order not to get left behind in the digital transformation.

To drive the digitalisation in the country, senior professionals with experience in directing and implementing change such as HRBPs (HR business partners) and CISO (chief information security officers) will be in demand, although they will be required to work cross functionally and have strong stakeholder management skills.

Last but not least, with Malaysia’ resurgence in its semiconductor industry and position in the Southeast Asia supply chain, we will see a number of international companies setting up headquarters in Malaysia and hiring locally.

Hong Kong

Flexible recruitment, Virtual Banking

It will be a defining year for Hong Kong in 2020 as they grapple with the economic effects of the ongoing political tension and unrest in the country. And one of the biggest trend we will see is the move towards a more flexible recruitment model as businesses look to control operation costs amidst challenging economic outlook.

Contract and temporary workers can expect many more opportunities in the coming year especially those with experience in project management, stakeholder management and digital transformation.

Meanwhile, the rise of virtual banking is set to transform the banking industry in Hong Kong. And much of the hiring will be in this space with senior-level executives from digital banking sectors the most sought after.


Artificial intelligence, E-commerce, Compliance 

There is no doubting China’s leading role in the global digital transformation and one of the areas that the country will look to further strengthen their leadership and innovation is in Artificial intelligence (AI). And considering the ongoing shortage for talent in this space, there is never a greater demand for people with such expertise.

E-commerce giants such as Alibaba have started to expand their reach internationally and at the current rate, China is set to surpass the United States as the biggest online retail market in the world. This will lead to a demand of talents with experience in international trade, ecommerce operations, and key account management skills.

Complex regulations and impending changes in the banking and finance as well as the life sciences industry will also see an increased demand in compliance and regulatory roles.


Digitalisation, Overseas Filipino talents

In line with the region’s push for digitalisation and transition towards becoming data-driven businesses, the Philippines will see a demand of technologists to support the transformation. Filipino talent with international experience will also be highly sought after as companies will be looking to entice skilled overseas-based Filipino professionals to return home to ease skill shortages.

Other roles that will be in demand are Finance business partners, enterprise architects, data scientists and analysts, digital marketers, human resources transformation professionals and heads of supply chain. Hiring managers will specifically be seeking professionals with a commercial mindset who can leverage their industry expertise, new technology platforms and available data to make good business recommendations and decisions.


Digitalisation, Gaming

Hiring is expected to be more active in 2020 than in 2019, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020. Digital transformation will be at the forefront of the talent trends of the year, with businesses to ramp up their digitalisation efforts with the recruitment of more technology and digital talents. There will also be a rise in hiring demand from trending sectors such as mobile and gaming.


Digitalisation, Finance, Infrastructure

With digital transformation still an ongoing journey down under, talents particularly in the UX, data management and cyber security will be in high demand although they will also come at premium rate, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters. With that, traditional and manual jobs will face the threat of being obsolete but new technology jobs such as design, programming and analysis will also be created.

Government investment in traditional infrastructure projects such as transport, health and education will also continue to stimulate demand for civil engineers and project managers, as well as professionals in ancillary sectors.


Digitalisation.. and more digitalisation

The country is still very much on its digitalisation transformation journey and more businesses are expected to join in, which will drive even greater demand for tech and digital talent, as well as transformation experts and leaders.

But with the speed of digitalisation comes the problem of lack of talent as the skillsets and pool of digital talents in Thailand remains very much limited.  Therefore, competition for digital and tech professionals will intensify further in 2020.