Global Talent Update – December 2023

EUROPE

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is known for his hard stance on immigration. However, due to the lack of local workers and in the light of new industrial developments, the Hungarian government is opening the country’s doors to hundreds of so-called “guest workers” from third countries. Viktor Orbán stated that the country would need to create half a million new jobs over the next few years, admitting that foreign labour was needed.

An estimated 700,000 Hungarians have left the country to work abroad, mainly in Western European countries; as a consequence, Hungary is crying out for more workers. “Due to growing demands in investment, companies in Hungary are increasingly trying to find labour from abroad,” said Ákos Jáhny, the CEO of a Hungarian recruitment firm that hires hundreds of workers abroad each month, mainly in Asia.

It’s a trend that has caused the head of the Hungarian Chemical Workers Federation to worry: “Wages are the same for Hungarian workers and workers from third-countries. Since employers have to pay for guest workers’ accommodation and food, Hungarians are losing out. And it makes wage negotiations much more difficult.” The topic is a sensitive one in Hungary, where a new law will make it easier to bring guest workers into the country.

Read more at Hungary calls for foreign nationals to bridge labour gap despite hardline immigration policies | Euronews.

ASIA PACIFIC

The gig economy, a vibrant and evolving sector in Malaysia, has seen a significant surge, and prospects are bright going forward amid some challenges. As of this year-to-date, it engages about four million individuals, over a quarter of Malaysia’s workforce, with a majority being young adults aged 25 to 44.

A study by the Employees Provident Fund predicted that gig workers will account for 40% of those employed in Malaysia in five years’ time, around twice the worldwide average. The gig economy consists of freelance jobs that offer flexible and temporary work for individuals, utilising online platforms to provide services for clients in search of such services.

Shedding light into the prospects of the gig economy amid the tough global economic scenario and geopolitical risks, Joelle Pang, general manager of FastGig Malaysia, said she is optimistic that it would flourish. She attributed this to several key factors. One of the primary drivers is the increasing digitalisation and connectivity in the country. She said the widespread use of smartphones and the availability of high-speed Internet have made it easier for individuals to access gig platforms and for businesses to leverage gig workers.

“This has led to the boom of the gig economy in Malaysia, with currently nearly 40% of the country’s workforce and about 26% of its labour pool participating in the sector.”

Read more at Gig economy popularity rising | The Star.

AFRICA

Global geopolitical and economic shifts have shaped labour market dynamics and workplace trends in Nigeria, presenting potential opportunities in the job market. This was shared by Ugodre Obi-Chukwu, the founder of Nairametrics Financial Advocates, as keynote speaker at the Workplace Outlook event, held last month in Lagos.

The theme of the event was: Balancing the Conversation: Aligning Employee and Employer Expectations. Ugodre explained that balancing the conversation between employee and employer expectations in the evolving global landscape requires a nuanced understanding of geopolitical shifts, economic indicators, and proactive HR practices.

Ugodre identified diversification away from the oil and gas sector, emphasis on technology and innovation, infrastructural development, financial services expansion, tourism and entertainment, manufacturing and local production, export expansion, education and training, healthcare development, agriculture, and expansion as potential areas for job opportunities. According to him, the trends shaping the workplace include increased remote and hybrid work, digital transformation, a focus on employee well-being, upskilling, gig economy growth, diversity and inclusion initiatives, sustainability practices, automation and entrepreneurial culture.

Read more at Global geopolitical, economic shifts shapes workplace trends in Nigeria, presents opportunities | Nairametrics.

SOUTH AMERICA

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed hope that decades-long negotiations might soon yield a finalized free trade agreement between the 27-member European Union and the four-nation South American trade bloc known as Mercosur, which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The two blocs are scheduled to hold a summit in Rio de Janeiro, but the final approval of a preliminary trade agreement has remained elusive.

The potential trade deal between the EU and Mercosur would create one of the world’s largest free trade zones, encompassing over 700 million inhabitants. It would facilitate increased trade and economic cooperation between the two regions.

The EU and Mercosur states have been engaged in negotiations for more than 20 years. While a basic agreement was reached in 2019, its implementation has been hindered by concerns related to the protection of the rainforest in South America and the desire of some European countries to safeguard their farmers from cheaper South American imports.

The potential free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur holds significant economic and geopolitical implications. The support expressed by Scholz and Lula for finalizing the deal reflects their commitment to strengthening trade relations and promoting sustainable development.

Read more at Germany, Brazil Hope for Finalizing EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement | Goodreturns.