Labour imbalances still threaten global markets
The inaugural Hays Global Skills Index conducted this year has found worrying inconsistencies in the world’s economic climate.
The report paints a dramatic picture of the global economic environment, with some countries experiencing chronic levels of unemployment, while others are straining to find enough highly skilled staff to fill places already available.
The problems stem from scars left by economic and social explosions over the last five years. Although parts of the world are returning to tentative growth, there are still imbalances in the market.
“Ironically, the world is short of the very skills that would help stimulate economic growth and thereby create opportunities for the unemployed,” says Hays chief executive Alistair Cox.
Christine Wright, Hays operations director in Asia, focuses on the roots of the problem. She says that different factors are affecting each of the 27 countries surveyed.
“These factors include economic pressures and fiscal incentives, the lack of strategic policymaking and oversight, ill-equipped education and vocational training systems, labour market rigidity, and immigration and visa policies,” she says.
The report advises employers to offer fiscal incentives to increase training provisions in key skills. It also suggests that governments should be clear on the skills their economies require and should work closer with educators and employers to make sure these requirements are met.
The situation in Asia is quite different. Wright points out that while China has very high education levels, inflexible labour laws have led to a talent mismatch and overall wage pressure.
In contrast, Hong Kong has a flexible labour market that has enabled employers to source candidates from overseas. The common use of English has also helped widen the talent pool.
Not everything is perfect in Hong Kong, however, as rising wages in highly skilled industries, together with a moderate talent mismatch, present a challenge.
Hong Kong’s relatively young population is an advantage in the long term, but this means there are often not enough senior candidates coming through the ranks for top posts, Wright says.
To combat this, she suggests employers have a global recruitment strategy in place and look more actively into regional and international recruitment markets.