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Foreign firms struggling to recruit managers

Released at: 17:42, 03/11/2015

Foreign firms struggling to recruit managers

Survey conducted in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Japan notes issues facing foreign employers in engaging senior personnel.

by Thu Hoang

Forty-one per cent of foreign enterprises in Vietnam said that they have been unable to attract enough mid-level and senior personnel in the last 12 months, according to the “Challenges in Recruiting and Retaining Mid-level and Senior Employees for Foreign Firms in Vietnam” report released by Navigos Search on November 3.

The report is part of a series of comparative surveys in Japan, Singapore, and Thailand conducted by en world - a group of recruiting consultancies specializing in professional and managerial roles, of which Navigos Search is a member.

Shortage of high quality mid-level and senior managers

Source:en world

This is a tough problem not only in Vietnam but also in Thailand and Singapore, where 52 per cent and 53 per cent of respondents, respectively, say it is difficult to recruit sufficient talent.

The lack of skilled mid-career and management level talent has existed in Vietnam for a long time, according to Ms. Nguyen Thi Van Anh, Managing Director of Navigos Search.

“Through this survey, however, we learn that it is not only a challenge in Vietnam but also regionally,” Ms. Anh said. “We at en world and Navigos Search have made recommendations in addressing these challenges. They include programs to establish and promote ‘Employer’s Branding’ or ‘Employee Engagement’ initiatives. Human resources solutions should be short, medium and long term.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents in Vietnam said the greatest challenge in retaining managers is fierce competition in terms of salary and benefits from industry peers. Regionally, Thailand (84 per cent of respondents) and Singapore (82 per cent) also face the same challenge in retaining managerial candidates.

Lack of English proficiency

English seems to remain a significant barrier for management in Vietnam.

Thirty-one per cent of respondents in the country’s survey consider English to be among the top three most important factors in recruiting management employees, compared to 2 per cent in Singapore.

There is a common perception that Japanese possess poor English skills but 61 per cent of companies surveyed in the country are satisfied with their managers’ English skills. The effects of globalization in tasks and resources and cross-border M&A deals also help to improve the English skills among employees in Japan.

English proficiency remains a major challenge for managers in Vietnam, however, despite their positive rating in communication skills and learning ability, according to the report.

It is clear that low English proficiency will be a significant barrier for managers in Vietnam when the ASEAN Economic Community takes effect at the end of 2015, which will permit the free flow of workers in eight industries.

Insufficient leadership skills

One of the most important factors in recruiting mid-level and senior managers for foreign companies in Vietnam is the need for leadership skills, but respondents were least satisfied with the leadership skills of managers in their enterprises.  

Managers in Singapore also received the lowest satisfaction rating for leadership skills. While foreign companies in Thailand need candidates with working experience in a similar field, figures show that this factor received the lowest level of satisfaction. Employees in Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand all receive very low satisfaction ratings in loyalty to the enterprise.

Three skill sets with the lowest levels of satisfaction

Source: en world

Training the best solution

All respondents in the four countries surveyed include leadership and management skills in training programs for managerial personnel. Forty-eight per cent of respondents in Vietnam said that this will be the main area of training for management staff while the rate in Singapore was 78 per cent, in Thailand 74 per cent, and in Japan 60 per cent.

“Train the trainer” programs helps make “learning by doing under supervision” a more effective model, as 57 per cent of respondents in Vietnam claim that this is the prevalent model at their firms.

Strengths of mid-level personnel

The surveys showed that mid-level and senior personnel in each country have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

While managers in Singapore and Vietnam seem to share the same strength of being hard working and eager to learn new things, managers in Japan and Thailand are perceived to have high self-motivation. Managers in Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam were all highly praised for their communication skills.

Mid-level managers in Singapore are viewed as having good professional skills, logical thinking, and integrity. In turn, managers in Thailand have a high sense of responsibility, good professional skills, and adaptability. Managers in Japan scored very high in terms of technical understanding while managers in Vietnam were found to be willing to assume responsibility and possessed the ability to learn.  

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