Headhunters Enthused for AEC’s Arrival
Jakarta. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community, or AEC, which is set to come into effect at the end of this year, will provide an opportunity for local talent to move beyond borders and build experience overseas, enabling businesses to fill manpower shortfalls, local headhunters say.
Commentators have said there is no single country which will benefit the greatest — or lose the most — from AEC, at least with regard to manpower, since each nation’s labor profile carries its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
According to Eko Nugroho, senior principal of JAC Recruitment-Indonesia, a management recruiting agency with a strong presence throughout Asia, countries with a highly educated population that are technologically advanced will benefit from tapping senior talent across Asean.
He added that the most multicultural regional companies will gain the most advantages by reaping stronger talent from across the region.
Faridah Lim, country manager for Jobstreet Indonesia, an online recruitment portal with branches in four other Asean member states, said Indonesia must improve education.
Indonesians must focus on language to remain viable within the regional labor market, she said.
“The AEC will be a positive impact for headhunters to be a mediator, focusing on senior-level management to provide talent for companies.”
“Incoming AEC companies will need more local talent with a greater understanding of the local market,” Faridah said.
“Indonesian headhunters will also play a role to recruit Indonesian talent to be placed overseas.”
Headhunters themselves will not be immune from regional competition, and Eko believes multi-region headhunters will lead the game.
Although JAC Recruitment-Indonesia already has a presence in the region, the company is enhancing its employees’ skill sets and work habits to be AEC-ready.
JAC employees are being retrained in “soft skills” for professional growth, through character and work ethic building, Eko says.
Employers will benefit from a wider range of talent, but higher skills will come at a higher cost, JAC officials say.
Employees in both white and blue collar sectors will enjoy greater access to job opportunities, though with greater competition, according to Eko.
For professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, Faridah doesn’t see any direct impact as these require specific skills and licenses that differ in each country.
Eko, on the other hand, predicts that professionals too will be effected by the AEC and advises them to be prepared to adjust to the regional changes, or else they may be beaten out by counterparts from abroad.
Eko believes Indonesia will, as a whole, rank in the middle among Asean countries, in terms of both income and technological levels.
Indonesia will probably sit alongside Thailand and below Singapore and Malaysia, he said.
He is confident, he says, in Indonesia’s ability to fill a wide range of positions, mainly in middle management.
“To say that Indonesia can only offer domestic and plantation workers is a myth,” Eko said.
“Indonesia has plenty of strong talent in a variety of industries including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, automotive and retail.”
Faridah agrees that Indonesia has a lot of potential, but is less optimistic.
“Many talented Indonesians are unable to present and communicate themselves well, which lowers their opportunity to be competitive against foreign talent,” Faridah said.
Due to the complexity of full integration of regulation across the Asean region, both experts agree the manpower aspect of AEC may not be fully realized for a further two to three years.
Some sectors that are in particularly high demand for workers may see their situation change more quickly, however.
“Certain service professionals urgently needed in Indonesia include information technology and e-commerce professionals, consultants, physicians, and lawyers,” Eko said.
“These talents could be moving to Indonesia within a year.”
Yet with such a great need for foreign talent in Indonesia, some folks at home worry what the future holds.
“There is a misconception that home-grown industries may die due to overseas competition and many will go jobless. This is totally wrong,” Eko asserts.
“Exchange of cross-border talent will result in knowledge transfer, and this must be welcomed.”
“Indonesians get to learn from Asean perspectives which could improve the productivity of growing businesses.”
“If individuals seek to go up the ladder as well as on the learning curve, then embracing foreign talent is going to be of a very great benefit to exchange business views which was not practiced earlier on,” he said.
Several challenges must be addressed by manpower stakeholders in order to move forward, headhunters say.
Adapting management practices to cope with the changing nature of the workplace and preparing to manage internal supply and demand for labor while not causing the displacement of local talent and reducing local earnings are just some of the issues stakeholders will face.
Asean member states will need to answer these questions and concerns and issue clear to make the most of the AEC when it becomes a reality later this year.
The article first appeared in the April edition of GlobeAsia magazine.
The post Headhunters Enthused for AEC’s Arrival appeared first on The Jakarta Globe.
Source: The Jakarta Globe