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Employers in Singapore must look to skilled locals based overseas to bridge the talent gap, or risk being left behind.
According to new research by Alexander Mann Solutions, the local talent crunch is set to worsen as 48% of companies in Asia say they are struggling to find talent.
Only 9% of them are looking in the right place – overseas – for skilled people to fill job vacancies.
The findings – which came out before the Ministry of Manpower announced companies in Singapore must, from August next year, consider local talent for job vacancies before hiring foreigners – show Singaporeans living and working overseas could be some of the best and most accessible sources of talent to boost local firms.
Around 200,000 Singaporeans currently reside overseas, mostly for work. Because of this, 47% of local employers say they are concerned about a lack of local talent. This is mainly due to a lack of available applicants (35%), lack of technical competencies or hard skills (29%), employability skills (28%) and lack of experience (17%).
The study notes that across the region, companies are using “short-sighted” tactics to combat this, including additional training to retain and up-skill staff (19%), trying to improve their talent pipeline (13%), considering increasing starting salaries (9%) and even appointing people without the necessary skills in the hopes they can be developed.
“The talent gap is worsening, but there is a pool of relatively untapped talent out there. We need to think carefully about the value proposition to attract them back. And we need to think differently about how to reach, engage and convince them,” said Alison Baird, managing director APAC for Alexander Mann Solutions.
“Asia Pacific professionals who have moved abroad are some of the city’s best and brightest. What’s more, their time overseas has made them even more valuable, earning them in-depth expertise and experience which local firms could leverage for competitive advantage and sustained growth.”
The study shows Asia’s brain drain is continuing to impact businesses as people move overseas for travel (65%), work experience (45%), better pay (38%) or opportunities (38%).
However, although workers from here have moved overseas to gain experience and upskill, the majority intend to return home within around five years after leaving, the study said.
“Moreover, they have a positive view of what Asia has to offer. And, above all, they are prepared to relocate for the right opportunity – if they know about it – and will welcome the right approach,” Baird said.