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Unleashing Southeast Asia’s potential: Exploring top 5 skills and industries for global companies

Independent Contractors
Industry Resources & Trends
CXC Global6 min read
CXC GlobalFebruary 06, 2024
CXC Global

Thanks to its growing pool of talented professionals, Southeast Asia is quickly becoming a key area for global businesses. The region is robust in specific industries and skills vital for companies operating (or planning to) globally.

One, Southeast Asia offers a large, young, and tech-savvy workforce, making it an excellent place for businesses looking to grow and stay competitive. Second, Southeast Asia’s strategic location, emerging tech scenes, and innovative spirit are big plus points for companies looking to invest and expand.

This article will explore the top five industries and skills in Southeast Asia that are key to global business success. We’ll examine why these areas are important and how companies can benefit from them. This is essential for any business, big or small, thinking about expanding into Southeast Asia or wanting to understand this vibrant market better.

Southeast Asia’s top industries and skills

Let’s examine the five industries and corresponding skills that make Southeast Asia attractive to businesses worldwide.

Information Technology (IT)

According to the Asia Development Bank (ADB), there has recently been a strong demand for digital skills. This is further reinforced by a joint report of ADB and LinkedIn, which shows that in countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, 75% of employers are looking for more employees with digital skills.

However, we’re not just talking about any digital skills—instead, we are pertaining to digital skills related to Information Technology or IT. When it comes to IT, Southeast Asia’s IT sector is expanding quickly. 

Southeast Asia’s most in-demand tech roles include:

  • cybersecurity analysts
  • technology risk managers
  • data scientists
  • project managers 
  • software developers.

There’s also a growing need for specialised engineering skills in edge computing, 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things.

An OECD Skills Strategy Southeast Asia report tackles the importance of these skills. Developing advanced IT and engineering skills is crucial for Southeast Asian countries to be part of the global production chain. This skill development is critical for meeting current market demands, preparing the workforce for future challenges, and maintaining the region’s competitive edge in the global economy.

Finance

Southeast Asia’s finance sector boasts skills like financial analysis, risk management, and fintech expertise. Financial analysis and risk management are vital for market evaluation and investment decisions in today’s volatile markets. The region’s growing fintech expertise, which includes digital banking and blockchain technology, complements these needs. 

The financial sector in Southeast Asia offers significant opportunities for global companies. Centres like Hong Kong and Singapore, with their strong banking sector and welcoming environment for businesses, are emerging as financial hubs. 

Singapore has been luring some Chinese wealth, and many financial firms are flocking there. According to Time Magazine, Billionaire Ray Dalio has set up shop to manage some of his personal fortune there. Ken Griffin and Steve Cohen are on hiring sprees—a testament to the region’s attractiveness.

The rise of fintech has opened new avenues for innovation. Southeast Asia’s blend of skilled professionals, a dynamic financial landscape, and openness to technology makes it a promising market for finance and fintech ventures.

Engineering

Southeast Asia is known for its diverse engineering skills, which span manufacturing, civil engineering, and renewable energy. Thanks to investments in STEM education, there’s a surge in qualified professionals in fields such as:

  • Manufacturing: Countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand lead in manufacturing, with expertise in production processes, quality control, and supply chain management.
  • Civil Engineering: The region excels in civil engineering, with skills in designing, constructing, and maintaining infrastructure like roads, bridges, and buildings.
  • Renewable energy: There’s a growing focus on renewable energy, with expertise in solar, wind, hydroelectric power technologies, energy storage, and grid integration.

Tapping into Southeast Asia’s engineering talent offers numerous benefits for global companies:

  • Partnering with local universities and research institutions can provide access to cutting-edge research and innovative solutions. 
  • Establishing specialised centres in the region can leverage local expertise in areas like manufacturing, civil engineering, or renewable energy. 
  • By employing local engineers, companies gain technical expertise and cultural insights into the country, resulting in better innovation and development.

E-commerce

According to a LinkedIn article by financial company LianLian, Southeast Asia is expected to be the next powerhouse in the e-commerce industry, and it is expected to generate $95 billion in online retail sales by 2025. 

The region’s e-commerce landscape is driven by rapidly evolving consumer behaviours and technological advancements. Some key trends shaping the future of e-commerce in Southeast Asia include the rise of social commerce, live streaming, and the adoption of AI and AR technologies. 

This means that more people have key skills relevant to e-commerce, such as:

  • Digital marketing: Digital marketing is crucial for reaching and engaging with target consumers. This includes knowledge of social media marketing, search engine optimisation, and email marketing.
  • Supply chain management: Effective supply chain management ensures timely product delivery and maintains customer satisfaction. This includes knowledge of inventory management, logistics, and transportation.
  • Online retail management: Online retail management involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of an e-commerce business, including product listings, customer service, and website maintenance.

Global companies have several strategies to maximise Southeast Asia’s booming eCommerce industry:

  1. Partnering with local e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Tokopedia helps businesses access the region’s e-commerce expertise and a broader customer base. 
  2. Setting up e-commerce centres of excellence within Southeast Asia can help companies tap into specific areas of e-commerce.
  3. Hiring local e-commerce talent allows companies to access Southeast Asia’s large and young population eager for education and skill development, providing a rich talent pool.

Customer experience

Southeast Asia is well known as a customer service hub. The area excels in customer service, support, and experience management. This complements the growth in eCommerce in the region, which also focuses on improving online customer interactions. 

The region’s young, educated workforce is ready to contribute skilled customer service representatives. High customer service expectations in Southeast Asia, with most consumers emphasising its importance, further highlight the need for excellent customer experience.

Since customer experience is key to market success, global companies can capitalise on Southeast Asia’s talent pool by exploring these tactics:

  • Collaborating with local customer service providers, including call centres and outsourcing firms, to access regional expertise. 
  • Establishing customer experience centres of excellence in Southeast Asia to help companies focus on specific areas like customer service and support. 
  • Hiring local talent to benefit from regional insights and a workforce familiar with regional customer experience strategies.

Tapping into Southeast Asia’s talent pool

Southeast Asia’s dynamic and diverse talent pool is a valuable resource for global companies looking to expand their reach. 

While the region’s talent pool offers a rich array of skills and expertise, navigating the complexities of hiring and managing a workforce across different Southeast Asian countries can be challenging—mainly due to varying local labour laws, cultural nuances, and administrative processes. 

This is where the role of Contractor Payroll or Employer of Record (EoR) services becomes crucial.

The role of Employer of Record (EoR) services

EoR services or (also called Contractor Payrolling), such as those offered by us at CXC, emerge as a key solution for global companies aiming to tap into Southeast Asia’s talent pool. 

We act as the legal employer for a company’s workforce in foreign countries, handling the complexities of international employment. We also manage seamless compliance with local labour laws, payroll, benefits, and HR tasks, allowing companies to concentrate on their primary business activities. 

In other words, we simplify hiring, onboarding, and employee management across Southeast Asia. We deal with legal and administrative tasks such as drafting compliant employment contracts and managing payroll taxes so you don’t have to. When you work with us, we will minimise your compliance risks and save you time and resources so that you can expand more effectively across Southeast Asia. 

Conclusion

Southeast Asia is undoubtedly a goldmine of opportunities for global businesses, highlighted by its strengths in key sectors: information technology, finance, engineering, e-commerce, and customer experience. 

For global leaders, Southeast Asia presents an unmissable opportunity. Now is the time to act. Engage with this dynamic region, collaborate with its skilled workforce, and integrate Southeast Asia’s unique capabilities into your global business strategy. The potential for growth, innovation, and success in this region is immense, and it beckons global companies to join its exciting journey forward.
Unlock the full potential of Southeast Asia’s booming sectors with CXC Global, your trusted partner in navigating the complexities of international business expansion. As a leader in global workforce management, CXC Global offers unparalleled insights and tailored solutions to integrate Southeast Asia’s unique capabilities into your business strategy effectively. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to drive growth, innovation, and success in this dynamic region.

Connect with CXC Global today and take the first step towards transforming your global business aspirations into reality.


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