Contingent workers playing a larger role in Asia’s digital economy

contingent workers
Image by Michael Darcy Brown | Bigstockphoto

As emerging technologies reshape the digital economy, the demand for skilled workers has grown exponentially. In response, many companies have turned to contingent workers to fill these roles.

Contingent workers, also known as contractors, temporary staff, or freelancers, are a vital part of many companies’ workforce strategies.

According to the 2022 APAC Workforce Insights report from employment firm PersolKelly, the top three skills in demand are related to IT, general administration, and sales and business development.

The trend for companies adopting a contingent workforce is accelerating, with about 25% of companies across the Asia Pacific who are already using contingent workers saying they will increase their usage over the next two years.

In Asia-Pacific overall, over 50% of companies surveyed said they use contingent workers to address headcount shortages.

The top two countries with the highest demand for contingent workers in IT are India (50%) and Vietnam (44%), where companies continue to look for talent in data analytics, cybersecurity, programming, and project management.

Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia are the highest adopters (>60%) of contingent workers in Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, countries with the highest percentage (>20%) of contingent workers as part of their total staff base are Indonesia (32%), India (31%), Vietnam (25%), and Thailand (25%).

All countries surveyed have IT in their top 3 in-demand skills, but PersolKelly also notes in a previous report that filling digital roles has become a challenge.

“Some emerging technologies are advancing faster overseas, leaving local talent out of step and without the latest skills. These skills also take time to pick up, and markets can’t churn out acceptable graduates at the rate needed. As a result, businesses based here often have to look overseas to bring in the right talent and skills,” the report said.

As a result, companies in countries like Singapore are hiking salaries to attract the best talent in the market. Governments like Malaysia are also strengthening collaboration with the private sector to bridge gaps in digital skills.

The report revealed that companies have four primary reasons they hire contingent workers: flexibility in workforce planning, to fill roles without disrupting operations, to bring in specific skills for short-term projects, and to allow time for evaluation prior to hiring permanently.

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