Jobs Data Belies Record Placement Quarter in Asia Pacific [Infographic]

Leading global professional services recruiter, Morgan McKinley, has released it's latest APAC Employment Monitor for Q3 2017. 22% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 26% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.


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APAC Employment Monitor Q3 2017 Highlights:

  • Permanent financial services jobs decreased by 9%, quarter-on-quarter, and by 6% year-on-year.
  • Professionals seeking new jobs increased by 18% quarter-on-quarter, and decreased by 12% year-on-year.
  • Contracting jobs decreased by 3% quarter-on-quarter, and increased by 21% year-on-year.
  • Singapore: 12% increase in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 30% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • China: 21% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 21% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Japan: 5% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 18% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Australia: 22% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 26% decrease in candidates quarter-on-quarter.
  • Hong Kong: 8% decrease in jobs, quarter-on-quarter and 4% increase in candidates quarter-on-quarter.


Morgan McKinley’s Asia Pacific region experienced a record placement quarter in Q3 of 2017, despite the seasonal dip in jobs available. “From July through September we saw enthusiasm on the ground exceed seasonal hurdles. A record quarter during a slow season bodes well for the second half of the year,” said Richie Holliday, Chief Operations Officer, Morgan McKinley Asia Pacific.

Mirroring Q3 2016, job numbers dipped by 9% quarter-on-quarter, while job seekers increased by 18% during the same time frame. Overall each of the countries witnessed more or less consistent swings, but the quarter was not without its surprises. Whereas in Q2 2017 Australia was an outlier with record highs and Singapore with record lows, Q3 saw Singapore rebound with remarkable force, defying expectations that it was heading toward a slump.

Though down by 3% quarter-on-quarter, a 21% year-on-year surge in contractor positions suggests a more fundamental shift happening in the region. Previously considered a less desirable form of employment, contractors are increasingly being embraced by Asia Pacific employers as ideal fits for an industry where agility and new ideas are rewarded. 

Employment in Australia

Echoing Q3 2016, Australia saw a 22% decrease in jobs available. Australia is a regional exception in that its fiscal year ends in Q2 and begins in Q3. Though from a global standpoint the first quarter of the fiscal year is commonly associated with increased hiring, Australia tends to see a rush to sign off on positions at the end of the fiscal year, making the decrease par for the course. “Sydney’s hiring rush happened in Q2 when we saw a 26% spike. Q3 is a return to the country’s generally static jobs numbers,” said Holliday.

Contrary to Q3 2016 when Australia saw a significant upswing in job seekers, however, Q3 2017 experienced a 26% decrease in job seekers. “Australia’s new restrictive visa regulations are in place making it a near certainty that we will see an impact on hiring, as the laws actively discourage international professionals from pursuing careers there,” said Holliday.

Contractor Employment

The gig economy train is barreling through the Asia Pacific region, with a 21% year-on-year increase, and a flat 3% decrease, quarter-on-quarter. “Increasingly, our clients are coming to us for help placing people in monthly, weekly, and even hourly positions,” said Holliday.

Though the shift toward contractor hiring is commonplace across Europe and the United States, it has been slower to emerge in Asia, but signs point toward the region catching up. It isn’t only employers racing toward contractor-based staffing; professionals likewise are seeking opportunities that allow them to explore and grow within their fields at a more rapid rate. “Morgan McKinley’s contractor management service is the fastest growing branch within our APAC offices,” said Holliday, who anticipates further expansion.


Despite ongoing global uncertainty, the Asia Pacific region remains a success story. “Twenty years ago there was practically no market for pension and wealth management, or insurance products in a vast number of apac countries. Today is a completely different story,” said Holliday. Two back to back decades of wealth creation in the region have generated an atmosphere conducive to a robust financial services sector that is expected to continue maturing and expanding.

As countries across the region face varying degrees of pressure to localize their businesses and workforces, professionals with local knowledge, including the relevant language skills, have a significant leg up on their competition. Those interested in capitalizing on the growth of the contractor space in particular will increasingly find a wealth of opportunities.

View the full press release and commentary for the Q3 2017 APAC Employment Monitor here.

Morgan McKinley APAC provides specialist recruitment services across the APAC region, including Australia, Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, working with clients and candidates to deliver local knowledge as well as global reach.

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Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg's picture
APAC Regional Managing Director