Thailand And Singapore Are The Least Miserable Globally

job market unemployment asia thailand singapore

Well, as it turns out, the country known as “the Land of Smiles” is truly that.

Yes, Thailand is, according to the Misery Index, the happiest place in the world. At least as far as the strength of the job market and cost of living is concerned.

The index is prepared by Bloomberg and is used as a way to determine how a nation’s average citizen fares economically.  It is arrived at by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate and the annual inflation rate.

It is assumed that higher unemployment numbers, coupled with rising inflation, results in worsening economic and social problems.

The problems created by poor economic numbers (unemployment, higher prices for staple items) create a plethora of issues for people/families in those nations.  When job opportunities decrease (or disappear), individuals and families have less money for food, housing, clothing, education, or savings. If things are relatively expensive, similar issues arise.

Thailand’s job market and inflation rates are currently working in a way that makes employment opportunities more available, while keeping goods and services relatively affordable.

As rated by the index, Thailand scored 1.11 percent.  A lower score on the index is favorable.  Of the 74 economies rated, Thailand’s score was the lowest.

Other Asian economies were rated just behind Thailand.  Singapore was second with a score of 1.40 percent. Japan’s 2.70 percent came in third.  Rounding out the top five lowest scores are Switzerland and Iceland.

China came in at 23rd.

asia job market and inflation, misery index

Asian CEOs Most Bullish About Increasing Jobs And Sales

increase in jobs asia

A global pulse survey conducted by YPO in July 2016 shows that Asian CEOs are the most confident in the world.

There has been a positive upswing from 60 points to 62.9 points in regards to their business/economic outlook of Asia.  This positive outlook was mostly inspired by India, which is the fastest growing economy in the world and went from 66.4 to 68 points.

The majority of Asian business leaders (72 percent in 2Q 2016 vs 59 percent last quarter) are projecting higher sales. Over the next 12 months, they are also predicting an increase in fixed investments. Not only are they anticipating sales to increase, 38 percent of them are planning on hiring new employees.

In looking at Southeast Asia, the confidence in increasing sales and jobs increased from 56.9 points to 60.5. This score is the highest it has been since Q1 of 2015. Even though it’s not as high as the overall score for Asia, it still shows the optimism of those in the area.

In terms of some country specifics, Malaysia’s confidence score went from 51.4 to 59.8, Hong Kong’s went from 45.9 to 54.5 and Singapore’s jumped just slightly from 54.5 to 54.9.

Despite the slowdown in China’s economy, the confidence score only dipped from 64 to 62.2.

According to YPO founder and CEO, Shiyin Cai, even though there have been issues with the short-term stability of the global economy, the confidence in China and India remains strong. This is very important as those are the two most important economies in Asia. As long as these two stay strong, Asia as a whole will continue to flourish.



A Key Element Needed To Become a CIO In Asia

asian chief information officer cio skills experience

The are many factors that are needed for someone to reach the C-suite.

For Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in Asia, international work experience is a very important factor.

Working overseas has become an important and positive experience for their careers, according to a large percentage of Asia’s CIOs.

In a recent report, published by the recruitment firm Hays, majority of the 307 CIOs surveyed, felt that overseas experience was beneficial in a number of ways, including skills, exposure, and building of senior management attributes.

how to become cio in asia

The findings revealed that, of the 44 percent of CIOs with overseas experience, most of time was spent in North America (49 percent).  Other countries where overseas experience was accumulated include: 30 percent in Europe, 19 percent in Australia and New Zealand, 13 percent in Great Britain, and 5 percent in the Middle East and Africa.

The overseas experience was longer than two years for 60 percent of Asian CIOs who worked abroad.

Of the people with overseas experience, a great majority (70 percent) felt their careers benefited considerably because of their experience.  Only an extremely small percentage (3 percent) said that the experience was of little or no benefit.

The trend for CIOs desiring overseas experience is not waning.  Currently, 38 percent of CIOs interviewed for the survey are considering opportunities for experiences outside of Asia.  Again, North America is the most preferred working spot for the highest percentage of CIOs (42 percent), with Europe as the second most desirable (26 percent).  Clearly, Asia’s CIOs look at worldwide experience as an important facet of their resumes.

Of those looking for opportunities outside Asia, 50 percent look at the time in other countries as an important step for career development.  However, there were other reasons why Asia’s CIOs want overseas experience.

  • Over one third looked favorably at the opportunities available in international markets.
  • 34 percent wanted the varied work-life balance available.
  • 26 percent wanted to experience a more multi-dimensional CIO experience not available in Asia.

Asian employers, while appreciating the reasons for CIOs looking to other areas of the world to enhance their experience, are becoming worried that they will lose many talented IT professionals.  The feeling among Asian businesses and employment recruiters, is concern that exposure to different cultures, practices, and cutting edge technology in advanced worldwide markets, will cause “a brain drain at the most senior level.”

Those professionals who do return from overseas experiences, are considered extremely valuable assets to Asian employers, due to their global experience and broader set of soft skills (communication, innovation, and ease of adaptation).

Technology will displace many jobs in ASEAN

technology replace jobs asean

A recent study conducted by the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities, examined how technology will affect workplaces across the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The research for the study is based on two surveys of more than 4,000 businesses, 2,700 students, and 330 stockholders.  The specific sectors examined were:  automotive and parts companies, electronics and parts manufacturing, clothing and footwear, the outsourcing of business processes, and retail.

As per the study, a high amount of salaried jobs in South East Asia will be displaced by technology (such as Internet of Things, Robotics and Additive Manufacturing), by the year 2025.  The estimate is that over 50 percent of salaried employment may be at risk, over the next few decades.

The main area where jobs are at risk is in more labor-intensive businesses:  textiles, clothing, and footwear.  And the greatest negative effect will fall mainly on younger female employees.  Nations most affected by the job loss look to be Cambodia and Vietnam, however, other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines will be impacted as well.

In the eyes of a majority of enterprises (60 percent), the use of technologies is seen as a positive, for increased sales, greater productivity from labor, and more opportunities for highly-skilled workers.  In fact, many enterprises have already implemented automation as a way to increase productivity, as well as quality and workplace safety.

The adapt to these developments, the ILO cites a need for greater capital investment, research and development, and high-value production, in ASEAN nations that have previously competed through low-wage labor in the global marketplace.

The ILO also emphasized a greater need for a more highly-skilled workforce, one that is able to adapt to new technologies.  Also emphasized is the need for a greater emphasis on technical (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines by educators in the region.

A look at the percentages reveals the uphill climb ahead for ASEAN educators and businesses, where very few students are engaging in STEM courses. Especially sobering is the low number of young women currently studying in the STEM disciplines, only 17 percent.

If employees, employers, and nations in the ASEAN are to affect a positive change for their future labor prospects, systems and education will need to be significantly improved.  It is the only way that a future workforce will be able to cope with the coming influx of technological advances in the labor market.

Western Digital & Seagate To Fire 4,200 employees in Malaysia

job cuts layoffs in malaysia

Both Seagate Technology and Western Digital, are expected to cut down their operations in Malaysia.

As per reports, Seagate will close down their facilities in Penang, Negri Sembilan and Bayan Lepas. The company employs around 3,000 people in Penang.

Western Digital is reported to be letting go of 1,200 employees in Penang, as it winds-up operations in Malaysia.

While part of these moves are due to global restructuring and layoffs, both companies also plan on shifting some of their operations to Thailand.

Here’s where Millennials want to work in Asia

ranking best employers companies in asia pacific

Universum asked over 100,000 Millennial professionals and students, across Asia Pacific, about their ideal employers.

The survey also aimed to find out what attributes they look for when choosing a career/employer. The answer? Achieving work-life balance is now of prime importance.  No longer is job stability or competitive pay the number one characteristic that Millennials look for. 

The following is a breakdown of the results by country:


Surveys taken from over 10,000 people, showed the following results:

For business students/professionals, the top choices are All Nippon Airways, Google, and Itochu Corporation, while Mitsubishi Corporation, Apple, Japan Airlines, and Japan International Cooperation Agency are next in line.  Other popular companies that value “work-life balance” in Japan include Suntory, Toyota Motors, and Shiseido, in that order.

For engineers, the top ten employers from best to worst are Google, Toyota Motors, Sony, Apple, and Suntry, while Ajinomoto, All Nippon Airways, Hitachi, Shiseido, and Microsoft round out the rest.


For Chinese business students/professionals, the top employers include Alibaba, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bank of China, Huawei, Citi, Deloitte, Apple, and Tencent respectively.

For engineers, their best bet would be, from top to bottom, Huawei, Alibaba, Tencent, Google, and Apple. Following those are Baidu, Microsoft, State Grid Corporation of China, Siemens, and the BMW Group.


For people in Singapore these are the top employers.

  • Engineering/Natural Sciences: A*STAR, Google, Singapore Airlines.
  • IT:  Google, Microsoft, Apple.
  • Business: Google, Singapore Airlines, Walt Disney.
  • Humanities/Liberal Arts/Education: Walt Disney, Google, Ministry of Education (MOE).


Unilever is the ideal employer for business students/professionals while Google, Vinamilk, and Samsung follow in its footsteps.  Following that, the next couple of companies include Coca-Cola, Vietnam Airlines, and AEON Group, with Lotte, Vietcombank and BIDV being last in line.

Engineers opt to go to Samsung, PetroVietnam Group,  and FPT, with Viettel, Vinamilk, Google, and Toyota being next in line. Finally, Petrolimex, Microsoft, and Unilever are in the last few places, albeit still some great choices.


For Filipino business peple, Google, Ayala Land, and Microsoft are the top three choices, followed by San Miguel Corporation, Samsung, and Nestlé.  Finally, Ayala Corporation, ABS-CBN Corporation, Intel, and Shell complete the list.

The perfect jobs for engineers are positions at San Miguel Corporation, Bangko Sentral ng Philipinas, and Google, while other companies include Philippine Airlines and Ayala Corporation.   Engineers also like ABS-CBN Corporation, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and EY (SGV & CO.).

This was the first time this study was done in the Philippines, and the results showed that 55 percent voted for “work-life balance,” and 49 percent chose “to be secure and stable in their jobs.”


The most attractive employers for business minds in Indonesia include Bank Indonesia, Kementerian Keuangan Republik Endonesia, Pertamina, Google, Garuda Indonesia, Kementerian Luar Negeri Republik Indonesia, Otoritas Jasa Keuangan, Unilever, Kementerian Pariwisata and Ekonomi Kreatif, and finally MET Mediatama Indonesia.

The top choices for engineers are Pertamina, Chevron Indonesia, Unilever, Google, Perusahaan Gas Negara, Garuda Indonesia, PLN, and Total E&P.

Here too, the most important career goal is “work-life balance,” coming at 53 percent. A close second is the desire “to be entrepreneurial, creative, or innovative.”


Business students/professionals aim to work at Google, Thai Airways International, and PTT.  They also have a preference for the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Siam Cement Group, GMM Grammy, Thai Air Asia, and LINE Corporation.  The United Nations and Microsoft are also places of interest.

Engineers have a better experience at Google, PTT, Chevron, Siam Cement, Microsoft, EGAT, Thai Airways International, Toyota, BMW Group, and Intel.

Once again, “work-life balance” is chosen as the primary career goal.


In Malaysia Millennials aimed to work for the following companies.

  • Engineering: PETROLIAM Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Shell, Sime Darby.
  • Business/Commerce: Bank Negara Malaysia, PETROLIAM Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Google.
  • Humanities/Liberal Arts/Education: ASTRO, Google, Karangkraf.
  • Natural Sciences: PETROLIAM Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Sime Darby, Shell.


Those in the Engineering and Natural Sciences fields would like to work for CSIRO, Google and the Government – Federal/Commonwealth.

For Business people, the top employers are Google, Apple and Qantas. While professionals in Humanities, Liberal Arts and Education fields prefer the United Nations and the Government Federal/Commonwealth/State.

It is interesting to see that in varying degrees, “work-life balance” was constantly chosen as the number one criteria when deciding on an employer throughout Asia Pacific.  While still a close second overall, “job security” continues to fall as a career goal.


In India, these are the most preferred employers.

  • Engineering/IT: Google, Microsoft, Apple.
  • Business/Commerce: Google, Apple, Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • Natural Sciences: Google, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, Apple.

Pay/salary levels for expatriates in Asia

expatriate salaries in asia 2016

ECA International conducts a survey, to gather information on expatriate compensation around the globe.

To arrive at and compare pay levels for expatriates, they look at the base salary, benefits, allowances and tax rates.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has the highest pay for expatriates, followed by China, India, Hong Kong and Australia.

Malaysia has the lowest level of expatriate compensation packages in the region.

For more details, trends and insights for different countries, take a look at the charts below and also view articles on ECA’s website.

expatriate salaries in asia 2016

salary levels for expatriate packages in asia

How part time jobs are changing in Asia

part time employment asia singapore

Page Personnel asked firms and employees in Asia, to provide their experience and thoughts on developments in the temporary/part-time employment market.

The main findings are:

  1. Part time employees have a higher level or specialization and education.
  2. The number of years of experience is increasingly valued by employers.
  3. Temporary employees are being hired in all areas of business and are performing more varied roles.
  4. Part time work is more autonomous, with employers expecting self-reliance and lesser need for close supervision.
  5. Employers are investing more time and money, towards training part time employees.

Take a look at this infographic and video for more highlights.

temporary and part time jobs in asia

These are the most expensive Asian cities to live in

cost of living in asia

Mercer released their global cost of living ranking for 2016, which compares the cost of a basket of goods and services that are usually used by expatriates. This includes items such as housing, clothing and food.

Hong Kong was at the top of the rankings again and is the most expensive city for expats in the world.

Five of the top 10 cities are in Asia, including:

  • Singapore (4th)
  • Tokyo (5th)
  • Shanghai (7th)
  • Beijing (10th)

“Many Asian cities remain amongst the world’s most expensive places to deploy expatriates. However, this has not hindered companies from relocating talent here, as the region continues to offer growth potential and the demand for top talent remains high.” – said Mario Ferraro (Head of Global Mobility in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey).

most expensive cities in the world

Standard Chartered has completed the majority of planned layoffs

standard chartered layoffs

There were big job cuts announced at Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in 2015.

As per reports, majority of the planned redundancies have been completed at this point, and any further cuts to headcount will be due to normal attrition.

The bank’s CEO in Singapore, Judy Hsu, told the media, “There’s natural attrition, and as we automate more of our processes, we see less of the low-value added manual work, and we will not be replacing that headcount.”

In November 2015, SCB said that it would cut 15,000 jobs and also exit from businesses where it was not competitive. At that point, the organisation had 86,000 employees globally and was suffering from the slowdown in Asia.

NUS and HKU retain position as top universities in Asia (2016)

best universities in asia 2016 ranking

NUS (National University of Singapore) retained the top spot as Asia’s best university, in the QS University Rankings: Asia 2016.

The rest of the top 5 positions were taken by University of Hong Kong (HKU), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Tsinghua University.

2016 2015 Institution Country/Territory
1 1 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
2 2 University of Hong Kong (HKU) Hong Kong
3 4 Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore
4 5 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Hong Kong
5 11 Tsinghua University China
6 3 KAIST – Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology South Korea
7 9 City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
8 6 The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Hong Kong
9 7 Peking University China
10 8 Seoul National University (SNU) South Korea
11 16 Fudan University China
12 10 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
13 12 The University of Tokyo Japan
14 15 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
15 14 Kyoto University Japan
16 19 Korea University South Korea
17 13 Osaka University Japan
18 18 Yonsei University South Korea
19 17 Sungkyunkwan University South Korea
20 20 Tohoku University Japan

Fintech funding and jobs in Asia continue to grow

fintech careers and companies in asia

KPMG and CB Insights released the Pulse of Fintech, a quarterly report on the state of Fintech across the world.

The report states that 218 deals worth a total of US$4.9 billion were closed across the globe between January and March 2016 – more than double the US$1.9 billion that was invested into Fintech startups during the last quarter.

A lot of this increase is due to what has been going on in Asia. The continent closed US$2.6 billion worth of deals in investment money, beating the global total raised in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s also more than five times the US$500 million closed in Asia last quarter.

But the numbers are skewed by a few big investments that took place in China, like which raised a series B round of US$1.21 billion, and JD Finance, with a round of US$1.01 billion.

While China continues to drive the majority of investment in the Asian region, other countries are growing their own fintech hubs, including Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Australia.

In total, Asia witnessed 36 deals. Nine deals were struck in China, and 15 in India. The number of early stage investments in Asia grew, however, their average size dropped to US$2 million.

China is not bringing in those small numbers – five of its nine Fintech deals were ranked among the highest in the world.

With 15 closed deals totaling just US$73 million, India’s Fintech investments have been on the smaller side.

Singapore saw a few small deals also, like Call Levels which secured an undisclosed pre-series A round.

Have a look at this chart for information on other deals across Asia.

asia fintech jobs and investment


The top three most active Fintech venture capital funds in Asia were East Ventures, 500 Startups, and Accel Partners, in that order. Banks are also getting more involved.

“Asian banks are increasing their investment and experimentation with Fintech – this is going beyond the traditional accelerators into more long term results driven mechanisms, rather than marketing led publicity campaigns.” – James McKeogh Partner, Management Consulting, KPMG in Hong Kong.

“Fintech entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific are starting to recognize the size of the opportunity outside of their local markets and are increasingly looking for cross border, regional or global expansion opportunities.” – Ian Pollari Global Co-Leader of Fintech, KPMG International and Partner, KPMG in Australia.

So, all in all, if you’re considering a career in the Fintech sector in Asia, the number of companies and jobs available is continuing to grow.