How Australian recruiters should source talent for Asia expansions


Australian recruiters may be finding it difficult to fill positions in companies looking to expand into the Asia region, and experts are suggesting they should focus their searches on a potentially untapped domestic pool of talent or professionals already based there.

According to the PwC APEC 2016 survey, 60 per cent of CEOs in Australia say sourcing the right kind of talent is the most important thing when deciding to invest in Asia-Pacific countries outside their own. It’s understandable – companies can face many challenges when doing business abroad, and having the right people in place is key.

Sourcing the right kind of talent is the most important thing when deciding to invest in Asia.

Australian businesses risk missing an opportunity

What many may not realise is that Australia has a large pool of potential talent. The Diversity Council has reported that 17 per cent of people living in the country claim to be of Asian origin. That equates to around 4 million people, many of whom will have cultural and language skills, contacts and know-how that could help them succeed in an Asian business environment.

However, within ASX 200 companies, less than 2 per cent of senior executives and less than 5 per cent of directors hail from the Asia region.

PwC pointed out that many of us in Australia who have the potential to operate effectively in Asia don’t actually work for an Australian organisation. Furthermore, the vast majority of firms here do not have any presence in that region, and a low proportion are considering such an expansion.

Business leader Christine Holgate, CEO and managing director of Blackmores, said Asia provides Australian businesses with fantastic opportunities, but there is a limited window of time.

“There are plenty of challenges of doing business in Asia. The first one, of course, is regulation changes and evolves, and some of the other ones – perhaps are more simple. But whenever you do business in someone else’s country, it’s their law, it’s their language, and you need to learn and understand that,” Ms Holgate said.

“When I look at Asia, it’s no secret of my love for the region. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit, but they work hard, and they expect strong results,” she added.

Most Australian firms have no plans to expand into the Asia region.

“I am slightly concerned that as Australia has evolved, we’ve become bureaucratic,” Ms Holgate added.

“We’re not as dynamic as we were. We’ve lost a bit of that old Aussie culture of ‘have a go’.  And we’ve become wrapped in in laws and only so many hours that we can work. We need to free ourselves up and get back that creative spirit. And learn from our Asian colleagues.”

“We need to free ourselves up and get back that creative spirit. And learn from our Asian colleagues.”

Where else can recruiters find Asia business talent?

Finding qualified candidates within the domestic market who are suited for roles based in Asia may be difficult. This is why many are looking outwards – in particular towards Australian expatriates already based in the region – for the talent they need.

PwC has forecast there will be 450,000 Australians living and working in Asia by 2030 – about one-third of the country’s total expatriate community. Currently, it is around one-fifth of the total. Australian expats, with their global connections and heightened understanding of cultural norms in both Australia and Asia, will surely be a valuable asset for companies looking to expand into the Asia region.

How FastTrack technology can help

Growth in demand for employees with Asia-specific skills and experience is likely to generate an increasing level of business for recruitment agencies in the coming years.

FastTrack360 is a novel recruitment software platform enabling the delivery of effective workforce management and contingency labour solutions. The platform integrates three powerful application engines to provide seamless delivery of the following functions – candidate search and recruitment, candidate payments (via timesheets, etc.) and client invoicing.

Contact us today to find out learn more about FastTrack360 and how it can help you.

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