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New generations bring changing expectations to APAC – Adapt to Survive!

Samir Khelil

Hiring for graduate programs or internships is no small feat. Although APAC is now home to over 55 percent of the world’s graduate population (and growing), the region is not immune to the global talent shortage. Indeed Manpower found Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong to be 3 of the top 4 countries suffering of the most talent shortage worldwide. Contributor Samir Khelil, Far East & APAC Director, OLEEO.

Universities in Asia have developed an increasing reputation and are attracting more interest from the domestic and overseas student populations than ever before. The result of this booming growth is students staying close to home for their university study are more empowered than ever before in choosing their next career path.

We have worked closely with Universum to help understand how these expectations are beginning to change. Significant ranking gaps can be observed in specific industries between male and female students. Banks (especially investment banks) are regarded as attractive employers by more male students. On the other hand, employers in the Public Sector and Governmental Agencies are more popular among the female students. Across both genders, the energy industry’s average rank declined. A much higher proportion of female students regarded social responsibility as an attractive employer attribute with a ranking position of 19th, which is much higher when compared to the 32nd ranking among male students.

Sadly, unemployment is on the rise in the region. With less optimism in the job market, students have also lowered their salary expectations and instead the achievement of work/life balance has been ranked as the number one career goal among students in every single main field of study.

The top 5 most attractive attribute preferences for students across the region are a friendly work environment, professional training and development, good reference for future career, high future earnings and clear paths for advancement.

Students in the region are aspirational with what they want to do most after graduation – either wanting to continue studying, or working for a state-owned business – a higher priority than anywhere else in the world.

It is important to note that while APAC countries are closer to EMEA recruitment habits, anyone who has tried to recruit in India is now familiar with the incredibly fast pace of early talent recruitment (sometimes as fast as 1 day recruitment cycles). Equally, anyone recruiting in Japan would be wise to spend time understanding how the strict local recruitment timetable works, or how dire demographics are impacting recruitment behaviors, forcing organizations to increase the proportion of international talent they hire.

Application trends in the APAC market matches these student aspirations. Blind analysis of applications using our systems reveals the following: Like the rest of the world, competition is extremely high – only 2 percent of applicants will get offers. Female hiring is starting to show signs of growth year over year, growing from a quarter of hires to around just over a third.

Recruiters rely heavily on screening to whittle down lists putting more emphasis on answers to questions than other parts of the world. Withdrawal of applications is low in percentage terms across APAC. Decline and renege rates are high, though not as much as the Americas – employers must focus more on engagement to retain top talent.

Consistently, a third of applicants are from outside of the APAC region. However, only around 10 percent of roles are filled by international recruits – many from the UK and US.

So, how can employers be better at engaging these applicants and being sure that they are winning the war for talent? Universum research identifies that career goal messages around work/life balance, job security and stability, having an international career, and the ability to become a leader or manager of people and to be dedicated to a cause or to feel that they are serving a greater good were the most highly desired amongst business students surveyed across Hong Kong and Singapore.

An example of a client doing this well is PWMA (the Private Wealth Management Association). PWMA and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have partnered on an initiative aimed at promoting Private Wealth Management in Hong Kong. In order to tackle talent scarcity in the region, PWMA had the great idea to get local Private Wealth Management actors to band together to create a 2-year apprenticeship program. The program is promoted via joint events. The program has been a huge success with a great student response, and 13 different organizations (including UBS, Credit Suisse, Bank of China) all working together to promote their industry, and in the process to attract candidates they could not have reached by themselves.

Just like everywhere else in the world, the student market is the key to the future in APAC. Whilst the changing expectations might feel stressful, the good news is that technology has the power to offer a helping hand with providing this crucial personalised messaging – that candidates have come to expect!

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