Better opportunities in Philippines encouraging more Filipino expatriates to come home
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Experienced and highly-skilled Filipino professionals based in Southeast Asia and the Middle East are expressing their intention to come home as demand and compensation for top professionals in key Philippine industries are now rising, according to a report by professional recruitment firm John Robert Walters.

In its 2019 Salary Survey, the London-based firm said experienced employees in accounting and finance, banking and finance, human resources, sales and marketing, and technology and transformation can realize salary offers that are 20 percent to 60 percent higher if they switch jobs in 2019. This is because employers are now seeking to attract top-tier talent with international exposure and specialized skill sets.

Monty Sujanani, Philippine country manager for John Robert Walters, said 2018 already saw salaries rising between 20 percent to 40 percent  for job movers as hiring for mid-level and high-level corporate executives — those with work experience of seven to eight years—become highly candidate-driven owing to the scarcity of top professionals with above 10 years of experience because of the relatively young talent pool of the Philippines.

Recruitment flourished in 2018 amid a relatively stable economic environment influenced by the influx of foreign companies and surging growth in local demand for goods and services.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have gained extensive experience abroad stand to directly benefit from developments in the labor market at home. These developments coincide with the launch of John Robert Walter’s Balikbayan Campaign two years ago in an effort to attract OFWs who wish to work in the country again to be with their families.

“We speak to thousands of (OFW) candidates and reach out to candidates all over the world. Sometimes they say no, I’m not ready to move, but when we reach out to them, they tell us, can you tell us about opportunities? To us that is success,” Sujanani said in a recent roundtable with reporters.

More OFWs based in nearby countries in Asia as well as the Middle East have been asking about career opportunities in the Philippines so they can be with their families.

“It’s new; we only started the program in the past two years,” said Sujanani. “But we see more success in people coming from Southeast Asia like Singapore and Malaysia as well as in the Middle East like Dubai. Sometimes, it’s not really about the distance, it’s about how ready they are to move back to be close to family.”

For returnees, increased digitization across industries is causing employers to demand for workers with digital or e-commerce experience.

“There was also a greater demand for niche specialization due to new regulations in the banking and financial services sector, migration activities from abroad, and increasingly digital and cashless banking activities,” said Sujanani.

Along with greater demand for executives with strong technical skills, employers are also looking for company leaders with strong soft skills. These skills go hand-in-hand for functions that involve the revenue side of businesses.

“In accounting and finance, for example, companies are looking for senior professionals who can face the revenue side of the businesses. They are not looking only for number crunchers. It uses soft skills, how they communicate with clients and various stakeholders,” he said.

In banking and finance, the imposition of stricter requirements by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) fuels the demand for compliance officers and risks analysts.

In human resources, employers are looking for executives who have knowledge in regional operations of firms, as well as knowledge in changes in the ongoing tax reform agenda of the government. Sales and marketing executives, meanwhile, who have experience in industrial sales and marketing are now much sought after because of the infrastructure boom in the country.

The hardest executives to recruit are technology professionals, causing companies to dangle as much as 60 percent pay increase for job switchers. Most in demand are professionals who work with big data as clients now increasingly use analytics to grow their businesses.

Other IT professionals in demand in the Philippines are those who specialize in robotics, automation and internet of things (IoT).

“It has come to a point when tech talents can choose their jobs. It is now a talent-driven sector,” said Sujanani.

For professionals in these fields who are still climbing the corporate ladder, the good news is that companies have been making signifiant investments in training and grooming junior-level employees for mid-level to senior roles.

Such investments can contribute to the maturity of the Philippines labor market, the majority of which are young professionals.

“In 2019, we expect these companies to begin reaping the rewards of their investments, as there will be an increase in professionals with sought-after skill sets in the market,” said Sujanani.

“However, there is still a scarcity of top professionals with above 10 years experience due to the relatively young talent market in the Philippines,” he added.

Luring OFW professions back into the country may require companies to consider offering more non-monetary incentives such as extensive medical healthcare coverage for employees and their dependents.

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