HIRING PROFESSIONALS in Asia Pacific (APAC) countries prefer candidates who possess artificial intelligence (AI) expertise and soft skills and plan to offer employee training on both, a study by LinkedIn showed.

LinkedIn’s latest Workplace Learning Report showed 88% of employers in APAC markets reported changes in the skills and qualifications they prioritize in job candidates amid the impact of AI and automation on their industries, it said in a statement this week.

“Companies are placing emphasis on candidates who possess not only AI expertise but also soft skills and a capacity for learning,” it said.

LinkedIn said in Southeast Asia (SEA), 95% of Learning & Development (L&D) professionals said human skills are increasingly becoming the “most competitive.”

“In particular, “Communication” has topped LinkedIn’s most in-demand skills list across all countries in APAC — in the Philippines, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore. This is not surprising in a new world of work where AI tools are freeing time for professionals to excel in jobs only people can do, like building relationships and collaborating with others,” it said.

“In addition, 40% of APAC hiring managers consider an individual’s potential for growth and ability to learn the most critical factor when evaluating internal and external candidates,” it added.

Amid the impact of AI on companies operations, 91% of APAC firms said they plan to offer training to their employees this year on the use of AI technologies.

“Today, the top five skills that hiring managers in APAC consider the most important in the era of AI show are a combination of both hard and soft skills — problem-solving abilities (35%), communications skills (27%), critical thinking (25%), AI skills (19%) and IT & web skills (17%),” it said.

“In the past year, the narrative was dominated by technological advancements, particularly the integration of AI into business workflows… However, we are now witnessing a pronounced shift towards skills — both technical and soft skills — to thrive in the era of AI. Investing in people’s growth is no longer a perk but a strategic imperative, considering that our workforce is the driving force behind companies’ success in an era shaped by both AI innovation and collaboration with AI,” Feon Ang, vice-president at LinkedIn Talent Solutions and APAC managing director, said.

LinkedIn’s study showed 44% of APAC human resources professionals are offering online training programs, while 43% said they are offering internal learning and development sessions focused on generative AI.

“As companies increasingly invest in learning opportunities, the focus on creating a learning culture has soared, becoming a top priority for L&D professionals in 2024 across all APAC markets. In fact, 91% of them in SEA say they can show business value by helping employees gain skills to move into different internal roles,” LinkedIn said. 

Meanwhile, a recent survey of APAC leaders showed internal mobility is becoming increasingly important in attracting and retaining top talent, with 48% of APAC leaders saying that providing career progression opportunities is a priority this year, LinkedIn said.

“Close to 4 in 10 (37%) of hiring managers see career growth opportunities as key to retaining top talent, along with competitive salary and workplace benefits (39%). In addition, close to half (49%) of APAC employers believe that highlighting opportunities for career advancement and increasing internal mobility are the top two ways to attract talent,” it said.

“These findings suggest that organizations in the APAC region would do well to focus on internal mobility as a key strategy for attracting and retaining top talent in the years to come,” it added.

LinkedIn said it has introduced AI-powered tools to help firms, such as Recruiter 2024, which gives candidate recommendations, and LinkedIn Learning, a chatbot that offers real-time and personalized advice and tailored content recommendations.

“Business leaders recognize that they cannot rely on old talent playbooks in this new era of work that’s being reshaped by AI, where skills needed for the same job will change by 68% by 2030. Every minute, LinkedIn helps seven people get hired and 140 hours of learning content is consumed. Building on this, we’ve supercharged our hiring and learning solutions to help companies recruit and retain the best talent,” Ms. Ang said. A.R.A. Inosante