Skills shortages in Asia have got to a point where 96% of employers say this can potentially hamper effective operations - with more than a third (34%) admitting they don't have the talent now even to achieve current business objectives.

As a result, two in three (65%) employers are willing to consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas candidate, as reported in Hays Asia Salary Guide for 2016.

This is considering a mixed hiring outlook for 2016, with 43% planning to increase headcount, but more than half (57%) planning to decrease or keep it the same.

So what are the solutions to Asia's skills woes?

On the one hand, out of the 3,000 employers across Asia in Hays report, close to half (49%) said their focus is on upskilling the current workforce.

Another 41% said they're working to improve their attraction strategy, in a bid to gain the interest of better-quality candidates.

These initiatives may work well for employers in Singapore, where one in five employees (21%) stated a lack of training and development opportunities as the reason to look for another job.

In conversation with Human Resources, Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia, provided perspectives on plugging the skills gap, in efforts led by L&D professionals.

"L&D processionals need to question, are they utilising communication in the business to allow others to educate the business, be it an employee in a junior role?"

The solution, she added, could lie in a mentorship framework, wherein a more experienced person could coach others in the organisation, or in the development of a fast-track programme, which can be used to develop both behavioral and technical skills.

The second point Wright made was around using flexible models of work and recruitment, in filling the skill gaps.

"We always bring in someone with a view to keeping them with us for at least five years - how about we try bringing in someone with a view of not keeping them?"

She was referring to the prevalent trend of hiring temporary or contract staff, which 30% of organisations in Asia said they resort to on a regular, ongoing basis.

Three in every organisations (60%) also stated that they have used a flexible staffing approach in the last 12 months, with the hiring of temporary staff and contractors being most common (67%).

This was followed by 40% resorting to the employment of part time staff, and 16% even opting for job sharing arrangement.

Wright commented: "If you have someone with the right skills, on a contract basis, to work with your high potentials, what a great succession plan that is."

She added: "Diversity in all aspects is a very important thing. L&D is not just about sitting and devising programmes, it is linked to business objectives. Such professionals have to identify creative ways to find the skills they need."

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