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2019 vs. 2022: what are APAC’s future in-demand skills?


Asia Pacific future in-demand skills.

Attracting tomorrow’s niche skills to beat talent scarcity and prepare for the future of work

| 5 min read |

If you’re looking for the future, look no further than the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. The region is ground zero for an evolving world of work that is digitised and led by innovation. The incubation of new ideas and technologies is intensive, with both traditional businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups driving rapid transformation.

The advent of “Industry 4.0” is hallmarked by smart software development, quantum computing and high-tech engineering. All of this is setting the stage for autonomous vehicles, blockchain, new energy, smart farming and biomedical innovations that will become a regular part of our lives. So what does this mean for future skills that will be in high demand?

the new skills frontier

The ripples of technology disruption reach farther every day as jobs and workers are impacted by artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced robotics. Automation is changing the way work is done, and it’s creating a new landscape for talent in APAC.

While technical talent will always be needed, some of today’s hottest jobs – such as UI/UX design, software testing and computer graphics – won’t likely be your niche roles in the future of work. Based on market trend research and predictions from Gartner and WEF, companies that want to staff up for tomorrow should be looking ahead to these top 10 digital skills for 2022:

  1. artificial intelligence
  2. IoT technology
  3. machine learning
  4. data science
  5. mobile application development
  6. cloud computing
  7. blockchain
  8. augmented and virtual reality
  9. cyber security analyst
  10. digital/social media marketing

top 3 emerging technologies in APAC

Among all the emerging technologies, three in particular are taking hold in APAC and fueling the competition for talent:

internet of things (IoT)

top 3 emerging technologies in Asia Pacific.The global market for IoT – connected devices that interact with other devices and their users – will reach $1.7 trillion by the end of 2019. This market could expand to $11 trillion by 2025, with a projected 64 billion IoT devices worldwide. There will be 9+ billion installed IoT devices in APAC alone by 2020, with the regional IoT market topping $381 billion by 2022.


Blockchain is an automated digital ledger of transactions and time-stamped data. Global spending on this tech is already at $2.9 billion and expected to increase to $11.7 billion by 2022. The APAC blockchain technology market is expected to be worth $4.5 billion by 2023, with healthcare and finance emerging as the big winners in improved efficiency and lower infrastructure costs.

augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR)

“Extended reality” technology is creating immersive new entertainment, educational and business experiences, with a projected worldwide user base of 216 million by 2025. The global market will be valued at $209+ billion by 2022, with APAC accounting for $34.9 billion. China leads the way with an anticipated 76.2% increase in spending on AR/VR (2017-2022).

talent strategy for APAC 2022

The Asia-Pacific region is one of the world’s largest markets, providing widespread opportunities for growth. Organisations seeking to enhance talent visibility should be looking at strategies like these:

  • identifying skill gaps that impact business objectives.
  • adopting talent intelligence tools to understand global talent supply and demand.
  • using talent intelligence insights to formulate hiring plans and fill skills gaps.
  • attracting talent from tier 1 universities worldwide, as well as tier 2 and 3 schools that have programs in niche skills.
  • increasing the use of contingent workers in alignment with country-specific labour laws.
  • leveraging inward talent mobility to the region, particularly from the US, UK and Germany.
  • lessening outward talent migration from the region.

attracting talent with niche skill sets

There are two proven ways to attract top talent with niche skills: (1) position the company as an attractive employer and (2) build a robust talent pipeline through continuous engagement. 

employer branding

attracting talent with niche skill sets.Companies with a strong focus on employer branding are better able to attract talent with niche skills. More than 90% of employers surveyed believe that employer brand and reputation are important, and that employer branding can impact revenue. Companies that invest in employer branding can also reduce turnover by showcasing workplace culture and career growth prospects. 

talent communities 

Talent communities are essential for companies seeking to build talent pools for niche skills. According to our Talent Trends candidate survey, only 24% of respondents who are currently employed are actively looking for another position, while almost half (47%) are open to another position if the right opportunity comes along. Building talent communities helps companies engage these passive candidates.

upskilling current employees

There is considerable value in helping your current employees to remain relevant at work by giving them the opportunity to enhance their skills.

The first step is to evaluate employee competencies and training needs. This will help you set a benchmark for developing personalised learning plans and skills transformation programs. You can also identify transferable skills and train employees to develop the niche skills that are — or will be — needed most.

Not sure where to start? Take a cue from Amazon, which has announced plans to retrain 100,000 employees by 2025. Their initiatives include training non-technical employees to move into technical roles, offering paid tuition for learning high-demand skills and enhancing the skills of technical employees to fill niche roles.

sourcing top talent

Knowing which niche skills an organisation needs is essential. But that knowledge should be coupled with an understanding of where talent can be found and what candidates want from a job.

three determining factors rise to the top across every country surveyed.In APAC, three determining factors rise to the top across every country surveyed, according to the 2019 Randstad Employer Brand Research. These are attractive salary and benefits (58%), work-life balance (47%) and job security (43%). Candidates are also looking for employers that are financially healthy with a good reputation and access to the latest technologies.

Job seekers also prefer multinational companies (40%) and are drawn to the IT, technology and communications sector as the most desirable (61%). Other top industries in APAC include automotive, consumer goods and life sciences.

With 76% of Talent Trends survey respondents saying that talent scarcity is a top concern for company executives, acquiring the future in-demand skills should be at the top of the agenda for every talent leader today. Building talent communities, creating an engaging employer brand and developing employee learning and development programs are some of the ways organisations can prepare for talent scarcity of niche skills. 

Click here to learn more about how you can overcome the global talent shortage.