Global HR Update: Asia

By Pacific Bridge Recruiting Jul 8, 2013

China Releases 2012 HR Statistics

China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security released its annual survey of the country’s employment conditions, including income distribution and social insurance statistics.

China’s working population was 767 million in 2012, up from 764 million in 2011.

Jobs in China’s services sector accounted for 36 percent of all employment in 2012, marking a slight increase from 35 percent the previous year. The number of foreign workers in China rose from 241,000 in 2011 to 246,500 in 2012.

Additionally, the survey covered annual average salaries for private and public workers. The annual average salary of public employees in China was $7,625, up almost 12 percent from 2011. The annual average salary of private-sector employees was $4,690, up 17 percent from the previous year.

A series of local minimum-wage hikes across the country in 2012 contributed to the rise in average salaries. Mandated minimum wages went into effect in 25 provinces and cities, with an average increase of 20 percent. In 2013 the average increase in salary due to higher minimum wages was 14 percent.

Singapore, Hong Kong Considered Low Risk for Talent Recruitment

Recruiting and retaining talented workers is easier in Singapore and Hong Kong than in any other city in Asia, according to Aon Hewitt’s 2013 global talent survey. The survey ranked cities on the quality and availability of education systems and talent development programs, as well as on economic stability and government transparency.

Of 130 international cities surveyed, Singapore ranked second overall, just behind New York. Hong Kong ranked seventh. Rounding out the least-risky cities for talent recruitment in Asia were Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Australia; Tokyo; Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Auckland, New Zealand; and Taipei, Taiwan.

Singapore’s high ranking comes from favorable economic policies and strong government-sponsored talent development programs, according to the survey. High income levels have made government investment in education infrastructure possible. This increases the availability of qualified professionals and, in turn, generates more income.

Hong Kong was considered only slightly more risky than Singapore, in terms of its government policies and talent development.

Asia-Pacific cities with the riskiest hiring prospects include Chongqing, China; Jaipur, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Hanoi, Vietnam; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Karachi, Pakistan; and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. In general, these cities suffer from political instability and low government investment in education.

Indian Women Drop Out of Labor Force

The labor force participation rate for Indian women fell almost 10 percent from 2005 to 2010, according to a new International Labor Organization (ILO) report. Indian women—who work primarily in agriculture, sales, education and handicraft manufacturing—made up 37 percent of the workforce in 2005 but just 29 percent in 2010.

Reasons for the decline include the 2008 economic crisis and a traditional bias against female workers in South Asia. Women have significantly less access to employment than men do, and social stigma prevents many Indian women from seeking jobs outside the home.

The trend of falling female employment has a deleterious effect on Indian economic growth, according to ILO economist Steven Kapsos. “Failure to allow women full access to the labor market is an underutilization of human resources that holds back productivity and economic growth,” he said.

Female employment rates in India are similar to rates in the rest of South Asia. While eight in 10 South Asian men are either employed or searching for a job, just three in 10 women are in either of these situations, the report revealed.

Female Employment at Core of Japan’s Economic Strategy

Laying out his plans for a national economic revival, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called increasing female employment the core of Japan’s strategy for economic growth.

Abe said the Japanese government would encourage women to participate in the workforce by subsidizing new daycare centers and employer-sponsored parental leave. Such subsidies would allow Japanese men and women to leave their jobs until their children are 3 years old. In addition, the government plans to set up a separate fund to sponsor skills training for women entering the workforce after the birth of a child.

Japan has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the developed world. In 2012 the rate was just 48 percent, compared with rates of 60 percent in the U.S. and 80 percent in northern Europe. Economic experts have long said that more women in the workforce would significantly boost Japan’s growth. A recent Goldman Sachs report, for example, found that if the employment gap between Japanese men and women were closed, the influx of female workers could increase Japan’s gross domestic product by as much as 14 percent.

Along with pledging generous government subsidies, Abe has called on private firms to have at least one female executive per company. Currently, just 15 percent of Japanese companies have female executives.

Singapore Graduates Optimistic About Employment Opportunities

In a survey of Singapore university students, nearly half expected to find their ideal job less than two months after graduation. Twenty percent expected to find their ideal job within two or three months, while 10 percent expected to find it within three or four months. Just under 8 percent expected to be unemployed or in a less-than-ideal job.

The survey, released by Adecco Singapore in June 2013, also found that 50 percent of students consider a large multinational as their first choice for an employer. Most students listed a large local company as their second option, followed by a local small or medium-size enterprise. Only about 10 percent of students were interested in joining a startup.

One of the most surprising findings, according to survey authors, was the large number of students who were undecided about which industry they wished to work in. Almost 25 percent didn’t respond to the question; of those who responded, 17 percent said they didn’t know.

Pacific Bridge Recruiting is a leading Asia executive recruiting and human resources consulting firm based in Bethesda, Md.

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