Shortages seen in six job fields
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Shortages seen in six job fields

Sales, IT and engineering among areas where employers struggle to find qualified people, says ManpowerGroup

Skilled workers are a critical driver of business success. A shortage of capable staff has become a major challenge in many countries and could significantly affect economic growth.

The need is particularly acute for certain specialists who can play a key role in developing the country's competitiveness, said ManpowerGroup Thailand, which has been gathering data on the specialist labour market over the past five years.

As the economy develops and undergoes a digital transformation, the labour market in Thailand mirrors conditions globally, with a shortage of workers in six fields: sales, information technology (IT), engineering, business administration, accounting and manufacturing.

Sales topped the list of positions in demand for three consecutive years from 2015-17, including business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C) and call centre positions. Professionals in technical sales such as engineering and pharmaceutical sales were in great demand and also had a high turnover rate.

Demand for IT workers has surged in line with widespread adoption of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), financial technology, digital payment and banking, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, data analytics, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality and cybersecurity.

In the engineering field, meanwhile, employers require workers with combined specialist and generalist skills. They prefer those with work experience in fields such as civil and mechanical engineering, and further specialisation in areas such as rail transport and signalling installations. This reflects heavy government investment in new telecommunication and transport networks.

Also in high demand are petroleum and mining engineering professionals, but the local supply is inadequate and employers need to bring in expatriates to fill some positions.


Skilled and semi-skilled technicians and technical support personnel are also needed in fields such as electricity, welding and machinery. These fields do not necessarily require bachelor's degrees and more positions are being filled by vocational school graduates who are offered continuing skill development on the job to achieve specialisation advantage.

Accounting and finance workers remain in high demand in the private and public sectors. Employers need people with the ability to analyse, plan and manage investment for maximum benefit. In addition, the required skills include hands-on experience in enterprise resource planning software from major providers such as SAP, Oracle and others.

Tax specialists with certified public accountant qualifications can also command relatively high salaries as businesses seek to adopt the most tax-efficient strategies.

Demand is rising as well for customer service workers and call-centre staff in response to growth in e-commerce, online financial services, insurance, real estate and technology-related business.

According to a ManpowerGroup survey in the first half of 2018 of 39,195 employers in 43 countries, 45% of employers could not find employees with skills matching their requirements.

The survey also found 67% of large organisations with at least 250 staff across all industries were facing a shortage of capable people. The shortages are the highest since ManpowerGroup began the annual surveys in 2006.

The countries where employers reported the most recruitment difficulty were Japan (89%), Romania (81%) and Taiwan (78%), with the least difficulty seen in the UK (19%), Ireland (18%) and China (13%).

In Japan, the problem is mainly demographic because the workforce is shrinking rapidly as the population ages.

Employers in Romania and Taiwan are increasingly likely to outsource work to the companies in foreign countries.


Globally, demand for skills is being affected by the evolution of technology that can assist -- and in some cases replace -- humans is having an impact on the most in-demand jobs. People with advanced knowledge and skills in using new technology are needed in many fields.

The survey indicates that 10 most wanted job fields are electrician, machinist, salesperson, engineer (mechanical, electrical and civil), logistics and transport, technicians including IT staff, administration, public relations, accounting and finance, and production specialists. Specialist workers from these fields must possess not only the requisite degrees and certificates but also must be committed to learning throughout their working lives to keep their skills up to date.

Lack of experienced and skilled job applicants was cited by almost one-third of survey respondents when asked about their inability to fill positions. Applicants' lack of technical and/or emotional skills was cited by 27% of employers.

More than half of employers say they have invested in learning platforms and tools to further develop capabilities of their personnel, a 20% increase from 2016. Some 64% of employers are developing technical skills of employees through technical certification, training and programming, while 56% are developing staff in interpersonal or emotional skills in areas such as customer service, sales and communication.

When it comes to qualifications, 36% of employers have adjusted their requirements for education and work experience to overcome shortages of capable personnel, with more on-the-job training offered where needed in order to attract a bigger pool of applicants.

In addition, one-third of companies are looking for certain demographic groups using online media to find potential candidates, or retired workers, parents who are returning to work, and part-time workers.

An equal number report offering additional welfare and benefits such as more annual leave days and other incentives to attract and retain workers and build an image as a desirable employer. Flexible work hours and remote work are also being offered.

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