Cielo Survey Finds That 50% of HR and Talent Acquisition Professionals in APAC Face Challenges in Quality of Hire

  • APAC diverges from global trends in challenges concerning talent acquisition, with the quality of hire (46.2%) accorded more importance than skills shortage which is the top global concern
  • Organisations in APAC more willing to implement new recruitment technologies (26.2%), over three times higher than the rest of the world (8.2%)
  • While the top concern in recruitment globally is skills shortage, it ranks joint second alongside time to hire in the APAC region at 35.4% each

Cielo, the world’s leading strategic Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider, has found that talent acquisition professionals in the APAC region are challenged with factors that are distinct from general trends faced by organisations globally.

The global survey, conducted by Cielo, consisted of an online survey of over 300 senior Talent Acquisition (TA) and HR leaders, plus over twenty in-depth interviews with key senior executives from multi-national companies across a range of industries. With digitisation efforts undertaken by many industries globally, the requirement for talent equipped with digital skills is also increasing. Digital skills and experience remain the most highly in-demand and least available in the global and regional marketplace. Furthermore, talent acquisition professionals today are increasingly challenged with attracting a future-proof talent pool and ensure new hires meet organisational objectives.

The survey found that globally, a large majority (73.6%) of respondents agree that their business faces a skills shortage, and 78.2% believe that skills shortages and gaps are among the three most significant issues they will face in the near future. However, APAC diverges from this global trend, identifying quality of hire as the main challenge at 46.2% – skills shortage ranks second, jointly with time to hire at 35.4%.

Furthermore, this challenge is exacerbated for APAC respondents that do not leverage RPO models compared to those that do (26.7%). However, APAC also sees many of its organisations willing to implement new recruitment technologies; at 26.2%, this figure diverges greatly from the global average of 8.2%.

“Skills-based talent acquisition has the potential to address many of APAC’s unique concerns, as well as those which the region shares with talent acquisition teams worldwide. In the near future, I believe that professionals are less likely to be concerned with headcount and more concerned with whether a team has the requisite experience to take on their tasks,” said Kumar Bhaya, Cielo’s VP of Client Solutions for APAC.

“That being said, instead of the focus being solely on identifying technical skills gaps in candidates, we should also be looking at their soft skills. These are more in demand in the changing landscape of business as they take longer to develop in a person. Shifting our focus to softer skills such as being able to positively cope with change and to be an inspiring leader to a remote team enables talent acquisition professionals to unshackle themselves from traditional limitations, but more importantly, allows them to access a far wider talent pool,” Bhaya adds.

The survey results also confirm that those who do not leverage RPO face more issues with quality of hire (39.4%), as opposed to the professionals who do use RPO (27.2%) for its technological benefits and recruiter expertise that result in better quality of hires. Experts in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region highlighted unique factors that were distinct from the general trends that this report identifies. Specifically, concerns included international skills shortages, breaking free of regional roles, and increasing attention to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B).

“In APAC there are definitely [skill] shortages, which is why we need to look at relocating people or look at other industries,” said Mayur Chaturvedi, Regional Director Rewards, Talent Management and HRBP of Zimmer Biomet. “For example, in Southeast Asia, the developed countries have good talent availability, and there are no problems. But when you go to emerging or developing countries, talent supply is low. Leadership roles and niche skill roles, in particular, are hard to find.”

Across national borders, skills shortages can vary significantly. While Singapore and Malaysia host transient markets of available talent, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia are markets where talent remains harder to find. The survey also found that particular pain points in these markets include hiring talent with leadership roles and niche skills; a challenge that may be eased through partnership with an RPO.

DEI&B continues to be a significant focus in APAC. However, in relation to feedback from their global peers, TA professionals in APAC are generally less concerned with DEI&B. Just 24.6 percent of recruiters in Asia listed it as a top concern compared to 45.6 percent globally. Regardless, APAC respondents who used an RPO were more committed to diversity and inclusion efforts (53.3%) than those who were not using an RPO (17.4%). Organisations and leadership teams are also taking this issue on to ensure they have the right perspectives for further internationalisation.

The whitepaper reports that the modern-day workforce is undergoing rapid, unexpected change, and organisations will be well-served by investing in agility and flexibility, using skills-based workforce planning as a lens to understand business needs and hiring. By considering the unique soft skill needs of a given team or business, TA professionals can focus on hiring based on the needs of their organisation and market, recruiting the right talent that is fit for the future.

To read the full Cielo whitepaper on the ‘Beyond the Skills Shortage’, please visit:

Notes to the editors:
The Future of Talent Acquisition research was commissioned by Cielo to better understand talent acquisition (TA) approaches by international businesses.

The comprehensive survey, consisting of 26 questions, engaged businesses across multiple industries in the UK, Europe and the Asia Pacific. 308 leading businesses were surveyed, with fieldwork conducted across June and July 2021. In addition, 21 in-depth interviews were conducted with HR and TA experts.

About Cielo
Cielo is the world’s leading strategic Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partner and industry innovator delivering RPO, Total Talent Acquisition, Consulting, and Executive Search services in over 100 countries. We design comprehensive, people-centric solutions and leverage Cielo TalentCloud – our agile technology platform featuring CRM, AI, automation, and analytics capabilities – to help our clients find, attract, and hire the specific talent to move their businesses forward. To learn more, visit

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