In January the team at Resources Group interviewed a number of key Market Research agency employers across the APAC region to hear their views on the recruitment market place and the key skills that are in greatest demand. The comments revealed a persistent and acute need and for talent at almost all levels and across all specialisations and sectors, that is not being matched by applicant supply.
In previous years, we have commented on how the growth of the sector had exceeded the rate that junior/entry-level recruits could be trained, with the knock-on effect being a shortage of Market Researchers with 2 to 5+ years’ experience. The problem of under-recruiting at entry- levels was also compounded by employers preferring to hire ready-trained researchers instead of trainees, therefore further reducing the future talent pool. This Junior to mid-level skills-gap has persisted for the last six years, with the result today that many employers in Asia are now looking outside the region for talent to meet the acute demand, a trend that almost ceased ten years’ ago as companies focused on only hiring locally.
The highest vacancy numbers for Market Research and Insight talent can be seen in the key regional economic hubs - Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong - but gulf between demand for talent and supply is widening in other key locations in region, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, where we have seen vacancies taking longer than average to fill. As always, Qualitative specialists at all levels are as sought-after as ever, with the real prize being local language skills in addition. Quantitative experience at mid-senior levels is also in high demand, especially in the areas of consumer branding and technology.
However, what employers crave most today is not just experience itself, but the ability to deliver real insight from the research, a skill which is also in shortest supply. Employers are becoming more discerning as their markets become more competitive and complex, requiring people who can give clients the ‘story’ behind the research and who can also understand the cultural nuances in each market. This applies to both Qualitative and Quantitative specialisations, and especially the latter where we have seen significant growth in vacancies for Researchers with advanced quantitative skills who can also communicate the meaning behind the data.
As we go further into 2018, the insatiable demand for market research talent in Asia shows no sign of abating and many employers will continue to struggle to fill their vacancies in this highly competitive market. The solution? In the short-term, it has to be flexibility: sure, it would be great to have an applicant who ticks every box, but the more open the job spec can be, whether it is salary, level, or local vs. foreign hire, the easier it will be to fill the gap in the team. As for the long-term, it can only come from more entry-level recruitment and training today, to have ready the Research Managers and Directors of tomorrow.