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Southeast Asia sees 85% rise in freelancer registrations
Wed, 27th Mar 2024

Outsized, the talent-on-demand platform, released its Talent-On-Demand 2024 report, which reveals a swiftly evolving Southeast Asian (SEA) job market. Based on proprietary data from thousands of projects posted on Outsized's platform in 2023, the SEA region has seen exceptional growth in the freelance economy with an 85% surge in freelancer registrations from 2022. The region also boasts the highest average day rates paid to independent talent globally, with figures at US$544.

With an age described by rapid technological advancement and uncertainty, access to highly skilled independent talent has transitioned to a strategic imperative for businesses in SEA. A profound shift in large enterprises' strategies attests to this. Facing robust market challenges, organisations are prioritising the unlocking of new growth opportunities, prudent capital management, and cost reduction. As a reflection of these priorities, there has been significant emphasis on agile and flexible models for capability building and execution amidst hiring freezes and large-scale redundancies.

"Southeast Asia’s talent landscape is undergoing a dynamic transformation, fuelled by a burgeoning demand for highly skilled individuals," stated Anurag Bhalla, Co-Founder and Managing Director SEA, Outsized. Bhalla believes that independent talent finds themselves at the epicentre of opportunity, empowered by flexible work arrangements and the need for continuous upskilling.

The report also highlighted three trends specific to SEA; Digital Transformation, Supply Chain Optimisation and New Talent Models. The financial services sector is leading the way in digitising services and catering to an unbanked population in countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Organisations are reshuffling their supply chains in response to socio-political disruptions and market volatility, reducing risk exposure and enhancing resilience. Lastly, organisations are shifting towards agile talent models to adapt to an unpredictable market. Talent in SEA can look forward to shifts towards more flexible work arrangements such as freelance and project-based roles. This may provide greater flexibility and autonomy but may also require individuals to be adaptable and versatile in their skill sets.

The report also identifies the top skills in demand observed from enterprises that have used Outsized. Amidst rapid digital transformation, companies need skilled individuals to guide this transition. Global averages for day rates for the top ten skills in 2023 were found at US$392, whilst in SEA, rates were significantly higher at US$544. Highly-in-demand skills in the region see considerably higher day rates than this average.

The SEA region currently finds itself at a pivotal stage of economic and technological evolution in 2024, where job markets are being redefined. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), Digitalisation, Automation, and Sustainability remain key focuses for organisations. These skill sets will continue to be in high demand. "As the skills landscape evolves, it can have a significant impact on an organisation's ability to remain competitive and profitable," said Bhalla. He further added, "Our prediction foresees a holistic shift in the approach to agile talent, where independent professionals are no longer confined to project-based roles but wielded as a proactive competitive advantage at scale."