No Impact of Economic Slowdown Felt on Hiring Activity in Technology and Finance Sectors in Asia

February 16, 20178:53 am695 views

Despite the global economic slowdown, senior-level and management positions remain available in countries such as Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. According to a market survey report released by leading global mobility specialist,, technology and finance look to dominate the job market in 2017 as the industries actively hire in Mumbai and Hong Kong respectively.

The first report of its kind to survey job boards across target markets, the ‘Asia Job Opportunities Report’ presents job openings by industry as a percentage of the total number of job openings available. Conducted towards end of 2016, the survey compiles comprehensive data from five Asian cities that are top destinations for globally mobile talents –Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.

“It is unsurprising that in this economic climate of cost-cuts and geopolitical uncertainty over Brexit, the recent US elections and the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership hanging in the balance, employers are approaching their hiring plans for the New Year with caution. However, our survey highlights that there is still room for optimism given the encouraging opportunities for career development in certain industries across Asia,” said Mr Sébastien Deschamps, CEO and Founder of

“This is largely thanks to the collective commitment by Asian governments to push ahead with reforms to restructure the region’s economies and build up workforce capabilities for sustainable growth. This all means great news for job seekers in the new year – particularly for experienced individuals in Technology which is looking to be a game changer, and a space benefiting from planned long-term investment, for businesses and finance in Asia,” explained Mr Deschamps.

Also, there is a general spike in hiring right after the holiday festivities so for job seekers who are prepared and ready to move, they need to maintain a strong professional social media presence and keep their connections fresh with recruiters.

In addition, job seekers must be proactive and think long-term about their career development. For instance, in many markets we surveyed, there are ample job opportunities for mid-level finance professionals prepared to upgrade their skills and make that leap into new roles created by the current FinTech landscape.

Sneak Peek into Asia’s Top 5 Hiring Industries

  1. Technology

The talent shortage is the highest in Mumbai, where vacancies take up 32.6 percent of the local job market. Tokyo comes second, though significantly lower at 19.9 percent. Proportion of vacancies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are all between 9 to13 percent each.

2. Finance

The talent shortage is the highest in Hong Kong, where vacancies take up 27.3 percent of the local job market. The proportion in remaining cities is close to one another in the 12 to 15 percent range.

3. Sales & Marketing

The talent shortage is the highest in Kuala Lumpur, where vacancies take up 19.1 percent of the local job market. Singapore and Hong Kong follow closely after whereas Tokyo and Mumbai fall behind drastically at 4.9 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.

4. Human Resources

The vacancy proportion in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are fairly even around 13-14% each. Meanwhile, Tokyo and Mumbai are similar, at around 4 percent each.

5. Consultancy and Management

Kuala Lumpur is hiring the most in this industry, at 18.9 percent. Singapore and Tokyo comes next at 10.3 percent and 8.3 percent respectively. Hong Kong and Mumbai, however, both drop below 5 percent each.

See: Economic Slowdown Will Not Impact Hiring Activity in Singapore, Stability Expected


Talent Demand for Job Roles

Singapore (76.1%), Hong Kong (49.5%), Tokyo (72.8%) and Kuala Lumpur (52.7%) are all in search of regular executives the most. The one exception is Mumbai, where executive level openings stand at 33.9 percent, losing to entry level position, which stand at 46.6 percent. Hong Kong (37.8%) and Mumbai’s high demand of entry level workers skewed the results towards it being the second overall leading position level.

However, in Singapore, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, recruiters seem to want to fill more senior/management positions (at 18.3%, 20.6%, 24% respectively) than entry level ones (5.6%, 6.7%, 23.3% respectively).

Hong Kong and Mumbai only stand at 12.8% and 19.6% for senior/management level job openings.

  • For senior executives and managers, Consultancy and Management in Kuala Lumpur has the most vacancies available (38.6%). Finance in Singapore (28.1%) and Mumbai (24.6%) are the next ones up.
  • While Logistics & Manufacturing in Tokyo and Finance in Kuala Lumpur are top hiring industries locally, senior/management positions are not in demand (less than 10%).
  • Entry-level job seekers have the best luck in Human Resources in Singapore and Sales & Marketing in Kuala Lumpur. They are the only top industries where entry positions hold the majority of the local job market. All the remaining across five cities are looking for regular executives most.
  • Logistics and Manufacturing, Communications and Food & Hospitality are not doing well in Asia. They are only industries that have hit the bottom three in more than one city.
  • Human Resources may have made it to the overall top hiring industry list, but job-seekers in this field may want to look away from Tokyo, as HR is in its bottom three industries hiring.


“The internal relocation and external attraction’s demand on Senior / Management positions are mostly coming from HR, as well as Finance and Banking, especially in niche roles such as compliance, risk and audit. The majority of projects we work on are coming from replacements; though it is not the case for Technology, Governance, and Sales, where demand is from newly-created jobs,” said Ms Alena Salakhova, Regional Director, Hudson Singapore.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has faced a prolonged skills shortage, especially in finance due to its position as a financial centre and regional hub for Greater China thereby creating continuous candidate demand and vacancy activity. At the moment, key factors driving demand for skilled candidates is the increasing focus on compliance, audit and cyber security, coupled with more mainland Chinese financial institutions setting up operations in Hong Kong.

“In fact, we are seeing vacancies available right across the board from entry-level positions right up to senior management roles. While some junior data entry positions are being offshored, this has been countered by an increasing need for experienced professionals to fill project-based roles and compliance positions. Given the increasing need for on-demand specialist skills, candidates in Hong Kong will need to be more open to accepting temporary or contract roles as more employers lean towards a flexible workforce,” said Dean Stallard, Regional Director, Hays Hong Kong.


Currently, Tokyo is seeing a high level of demand for skilled Technology professionals. Japan is currently facing a candidate short market in the technology sector, and the top functional areas CIOs find it most difficult to find skilled IT job candidates are IT security, applications development, data/database management, software development and networking.

“In the technology sector, according to our latest Salary Guide, 1 in 3 (31 percent) firms planned to increase their IT headcount, yet faced with a skills shortage, 84 percent say it is challenging to find suitably skilled professionals.”

“Across the finance and accounting recruitment market, companies are struggling to secure high quality permanent candidates. Thus, demand for temporary professionals is increasing, especially in the project management and business transformation initiatives. Almost half (47 percent) of companies were planning to expand their finance teams in 2016 – a strong indicator of continued growth across the sector,” said Adam Johnston, Managing Director, Robert Half Japan.

Kuala Lumpur

“As organisations globally look to improve productivity, specialist skillsets are required and Malaysia is no different in this regard. Malaysia will continue to have a strong hiring trend in 2017. Turnover whether proactive or reactive is generally high in Malaysia and as such, there is high demand for replacements,” said Ryan Carroll, Country Director, Randstad Malaysia.


“Key sectors that are experiencing solid growth include the financial services sector, as more Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) establish themselves in Mumbai, the nation’s economic capital. NBFCs are seen as popular lending alternatives for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises that experience difficulties securing loans from traditional banks.

“While e-commerce thrived last year, this sector is somewhat stabilized. Investors are exercising caution, choosing to invest in sustainable businesses instead of seemingly volatile start-ups. Still, the industry continues to attract top Indian talent currently based overseas, with many returning to the country to set up or join technology and engineering ventures,” said Mr Ankit Agarwala, Director, Michael Page India.

The article was originally published here.

Also read: Banks in Singapore Continue Hiring Despite Slow Economy

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