In Focus: Giles Daubeney, Deputy CEO for Robert Walters

What are the employment trends in Asia Pacific? What jobs are in demand? Giles Daubeney, Deputy CEO of Robert Walters speaks with Clara Tan for our latest In Focus series. 

By Clara Tan
Give us an overview of the employment trends in Asia Pacific and what job seekers can expect from salaries.
There is still a real demand and shortage for bilingual professionals across Asia Pacific in countries such as Japan and South Korea. The economy in Australia has been tough, but over the last 3 months, we have seen growth. As more international companies establish themselves in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and the demand from local companies to be involved with the international business community, the demand for bilingual professionals is also very high. Within the more mature Asian markets such as Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong we are experiencing a shortage of quality professionals in niche areas such as technology, risk and compliance. 
How different is the employment scene in Asia Pacific compared to the rest of the world?
Recruitment is very much a new industry in some of the emerging markets in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Thailand. This is primarily because of the culture. It was only in the last 10 years where people in these countries moved jobs in their career lifespan. There is a growing pool of bright young Asian men and women being educated overseas. A lot of them want to understand different cultures and get knowledge. Eventually, most of them do come home and they return with some skills that are very marketable. 
The matured markets such as the UK and America are more influenced by HR. In Asia, hiring decisions are still made by the department heads or line managers such as the Finance Director or the Marketing Director. You do not run into the bureaucracy of HR and procurement. 
Technology is disrupting the job scene. What advice do you have for future job seekers?
For all professionals seeking employment, yes strong technology and computer skills are very important. Technology has changed the world that we all work in with great input on the exchange of information and the way business is done. While I firmly believe in the traditional value of face-to-face relationships, technology has changed the way people conduct their lives. With technology, people now have the opportunity to work from home, which was never possible before. 
Businesses in South East Asia are looking to bring overseas professionals back home to combat skills shortage. What impact will it have on the locals in the region? What other incentives besides remuneration can be done to attract them?
I do not feel it will have an impact on the local market. What this opportunity really is, is that organisations are recognising that there are nationals working and living overseas with very strong skills that can be used in their own countries. Malaysia is a really interesting example where the government is giving incentives for Malaysians to return home. Be it through tax breaks or getting their spouses employment. The big difference today is that young people want to go and get experience and the ability and access to travel is cheaper and easier than 20 years ago. 
There are advantages as well to being educated overseas and most people take on their first job in that country. But there is a great culture pull to return home especially in Asia. Some families may only have one child or if parents are getting older, they feel they need to come home.
What changes do you foresee in the workplaces of the future?
As mentioned earlier technology is a big change in the world. The way we communicate has changed with accessibility to email, smart phones and instant messaging. The contracting workforce and perception has changed as well. About 15 years ago, professionals in Singapore and Japan did not want to take on a contracting role because they perceived it as something to settle for when they could not find a full-time position. 
Companies now look at it as a way of bringing in skills to help work on a project and the emerging pool of professionals today enjoy working on a contract so they can do a 6-month job then maybe have time off to do a bit of travel or upskill themselves on something different. You can also sort of control costs if you think about it. For example, you can bring in people just to help implement a new IT system which can take from 6 to 9 months.