The report provides in-depth insight into employment conditions, key employee skills in demand, sector trends and salary benchmarks in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan.

Introduction

Greater China appears to be well-armed in withstanding volatility, despite the well-documented concerns surrounding the state of the region’s economy. Activity levels are positive, with the continued demand for digital specialists, among others, on the rise. While we are seeing some multi-national corporations (MNCs) take a cautious approach to hiring amid an uncertain market outlook, mainland Chinese-owned firms are fast expanding and becoming increasingly competitive with their employer value proposition.

This report is based on the responses of over 1,000 employers across Greater China and insights received from a series of roundtables held with employers across the region.

Market Overview

Taiwan had a slow and steady 2015 and, despite a slowdown in the second half of the year, we expect to see some growth in 2016, with 72% of employers forecasting salary increases of 1-5%.

That said, there are some areas experiencing faster growth. Like mainland China and Hong Kong, demand for all things digital in Taiwan shows little sign of slowing down. There is a constant demand for candidates with digital marketing and e-commerce skills, with a corresponding degree of staff turnover and salary inflation. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are also enjoying decent growth and are expected to expand their headcount further. This may be due in part to Taiwan’s ageing population.

Taiwan has a thriving start-up culture, driving demand for professionals such as software developers. While in some markets, a relative shortage of such talent has usually led to high turnover and salary inflation. In Taiwan, employers value stability on a candidate’s CV and salary increases for changing jobs in the technology industry tend to be around 5-10%. These figures are higher than the Taiwanese average of 1-5% in 2016, but low by international standards. The growth of these start-ups is also fuelling demand in certain support services, such as HR.

Luxury retail, however, has had a difficult 2015 and we expect headcount to remain static in almost all job functions in this industry.

Taiwan has long been a conservative market, with relatively low staff turnover and salary increases. With the exception of certain sectors, including e-commerce, this trend is not expected to change dramatically in 2016. The good news for employees is that employers are starting to put more emphasis on workplace flexibility as a retention tool. Some 65% of employers say flexible working arrangements are in place at their companies.

Candidates leaving Taiwan to seek higher salaries and better opportunities in Hong Kong and China remain a challenge for employers. However, because Taiwan is a relatively homogenous market, employers are reluctant to consider hiring foreign talent to plug the gaps. Employers have often looked for Taiwanese who are currently outside the workforce, for example, mothers who have taken a short sabbatical and are looking to return to work, to address this issue. For this group, however, choosing to enter the workforce is mostly a lifestyle choice rather than a lack of job opportunities. As a result, work-life balance is often a deciding factor and the success of employers’ efforts to address this challenge will be a key trend to watch in 2016.

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Key Insights

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Finance Insights

The tobacco and healthcare industries continue to lead the way in offering above average salary and benefits packages as they try to attract the best talent in the market.

We are witnessing an increasingly candidate-driven market with more businesses recruiting than candidates seeking a new role. This change has led to salary inflation in some areas.

While some MNCs in the healthcare sector are more conservative when it comes to hiring, we have seen more new businesses entering Taiwan as well as more aggressive growth from local and/or regional businesses. Hence, we have seen an increasing demand for finance professionals in this sector.

Despite challenges in the luxury sector, we have seen continued investment from fast fashion due to new entrants in the market. Some existing businesses have also expanded and are investing in finance professionals.

Businesses are increasingly willing to hire entry-level candidates with potential and giving greater consideration to succession planning. There is demand for candidates who have implemented new systems or set up shared service operations.

Hot jobs: financial planning and analysis roles, and roles that involve working closely with commercial functions to improve efficiency and results.

Financial Services Insights

The financial services market has been relatively unstable, with many large MNCs companies looking at reorganising their teams or downsizing. Conversely, there are international companies looking to enter the Taiwanese market, so opportunities remain.

As retail banking continues to evolve towards full service e-banking platforms, organisations are adopting more efficient processes, thus reducing headcount in front-line services. Some banks are also reducing branch numbers significantly.

Asset management firms seem more bullish
about increasing headcount.

Compliance and risk management job roles continue to be in high demand as financial services institutions adhere to government regulations and look for professionals with relevant experience.

Most of the recruitment we are seeing is for front and middle-office positions.

Human Resources Insights

Employers within the pharmaceutical, financial services and tobacco sectors typically offer the most attractive salary and benefits packages. Businesses are also enhancing their benefits packages to include more workplace flexibility in an attempt to attract and retain the best talent.

Although salary increases are fairly average, we are seeing more available job opportunities as start-ups grow in size and invest in HR functions.

There is also increasing demand for candidates with learning and development skills, particularly in the retail and FMCG sectors.

Marketing Insights

In some consumer sectors, marketing activities are still more focused on adapting global or regional strategies for the local market rather than creating original campaigns. Above-the-line (ATL) campaigns are seldom used. This puts an increased emphasis on the need to attract candidates with below-the-line (BTL) experience.

In the FMCG sector, trade marketing continues to be a key function in the sales and marketing teams.

Flat department structures tend to offer fewer career progression opportunities for junior to mid-level manager candidates looking to progress into more senior roles with larger business remits. This lack of progression is fuelling some candidates to seek a new role externally.

We are seeing the marketing function evolve to become a more commercially-aware one with increased roles in business planning and analysis, so candidates with experience in these areas are highly sought-after.

Digital marketing is becoming a core element of brand building and there is an intense demand for e-commerce and digital specialists. This demand often results in counter-offers as employers attempt to prevent staff from leaving.

Procurement & Supply Chain Insights

As the procurement & supply chain market is candidate-driven, and those with strong and relevant experience can expect multiple offers.

Conversely, some businesses are moving key roles to regional headquarters located typically in Hong Kong, China and Singapore. This may be due in part to the challenges of identifying and securing the right talent in the local market.

Customer-facing skills are particularly highly sought-after and we expect this trend to continue to strengthen.

Candidates with regional or international exposure are also typically in demand from employers who want to manage international supply chains.

Retail & Sourcing Insights

Employers typically find it hard to attract the best talent in the Central and Southern Taiwan regions as they have to compete with opportunities in Northern Taiwan, particularly in Taipei. Taipei positions often offer more competitive salaries and are located in the country's capital, which has the highest concentration of retail flagship stores and headquarters compared with the rest of Taiwan.

We have seen a trend of international businesses focusing their resources on mainland China, which has led to decreased headcount in Taiwan.

Some senior Taiwanese executives are also moving to mainland China in search of better opportunities.

There are many opportunities for junior and mid-level positions, though mid-level candidates looking to progress to more senior roles may find their options limited.

There is strong demand for talent who have experience in managing overseas luxury stores. However, these candidates typically also receive job offers from other overseas companies, so Taiwanese firms often have to pay a premium to attract and retain them.

English language skills are in particular demand, as are leadership skills.

Hot jobs:
roles in retail operations, in particular at store and area manager levels.

Technology Insights

With cloud solutions being the future trend, we are seeing more solution providers and system integration companies expand their business propositions to include this area of technology. Cloud solution-related skillsets are therefore in increasing demand.

Financial services have invested in IT security for many years in compliance with government regulations. However, we are now seeing businesses across wider industry verticals, such as the manufacturing and semiconductor industries, expand in their use of technology. As more resources are now used to invest in IT infrastructure, businesses now require higher levels of security and, in turn, more manpower to oversee this area. This demand has created a talent gap.

We are seeing many enquiries from companies in China, Hong Kong and Singapore who wish to hire and relocate Taiwanese candidates, particularly professionals with IT and R&D skills. These businesses often try to attract talent through highly competitive salary packages and the promise of larger and/or more senior job roles.

Despite a strong start-up culture, salary increases are relatively flat, with increments of 5-10% during job changes.

Employers are looking to hire for the long term, so stability on a candidate’s resume is valued. Those who change jobs frequently may find this preference an obstacle.

MNC employers, in particular, value strong English skills.

There is particular demand for software developers, user experience engineers, developers, high-level IT managers and candidates with experience in semi-conductors and process integration.

Sales Insights

In some instances, businesses have struggled to attract and secure talent often due to prolonged interview and assessment processes. Delays are often seen when regional and/or global stakeholders are required to approve final hiring decisions or if there is a misalignment between the regional and local perception of needs.

Employers are finding it challenging to attract high-calibre candidates for junior to mid-management level positions. Professionals in their 30s continue to be in high demand for mid-management roles.

Employers typically prefer candidates who are currently in the same industry and have relevant product range knowledge. Conversely, candidates would often like to explore opportunities outside of their current industry.
English language skills are in particular demand, as are leadership skills.

The pharmaceutical, industrial and manufacturing sectors have been particularly active in recruiting across sales functions.

Hot jobs: roles in channel management, field sales and key account management (KAM) functions are hot in consumer sectors whereas new business and sales management positions are common in B2B industries.

“Our company is trying to push our Taiwanese office to become the group’s sub-regional headquarters. Hence, we are looking for local talent with more international exposure. In 2015, it took us a long time to find candidates with specialised skills like quantitative analysis and accounting.”

– HR Business Partner, financial company

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