Sourcing competent, reliable and skilled workforce in a full employment situation is a major challenge for every employer, large-scale or small-scale. Offering ready-made and tested solutions is a role that has been provided for 70 years world-wide and 20 years in Thailand by the Manpower Group. Manpower operates worldwide through 3,500 offices in 80 countries, serving over 400,000 clients.

In Thailand, Manpower operations commenced in March 1998 under the leadership of Simon Matthews, who continues to develop the company from his Bangkok head office, with a total of 12 offices nationwide. Manpower employs over 15,000 contract workers, who are designated as “associates”, working with over 500 clients. The company has 220 permanent staff and a turnover in 2017 of Baht 3.9 billion.

We asked Simon Matthews, who also until recently served as Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, about the objectives, challenges, performance and ethics of Manpower Group in Thailand and worldwide.

What are the activities of Manpower Group in Thailand?

Most people know Manpower as a supplier of contract employees, whom we call “Associates” but actually we are a highly diversified organisation, offering total solutions with four main activities, which are: permanent recruitment services; contract and temporary recruitment services: business solutions services; and career transition services.

Can you tell us about these four Manpower services?

  • Permanent Recruitment Services provide advertising, interviewing, selection and screening;
  • Contract and Temporary Recruitment Services include hiring for 3,6,12 or indefinite periods, or else temporary employment for daily, weekly or monthly service. Such employment can be at various stages of control by Manpower, from simple payroll, HR service, or full  operational management;
  • Business Solutions Services include recruitment process outsourcing, talent-based outsourcing and borderless talent solutions. Each of these services offer outsourcing solutions to meet scarce talent needs;
  • Career Transition Services offer solutions to organisational downsizing, including interviewing, assessment, re-training, career history writing, and job-search.

What sectors have the highest hiring demand?

From Manpower survey experience, the career fields with the most hiring demand would be sales and marketing (21.6%); accounting and finance (12.2%); IT (10.1%); engineering (8.3%); customer services (8.1%); production (6.2%); administration (6.1%); transport and logistics (5.4%); human resources (4.3%); and management (3.5%).

What are the career fields most sought after by the workforce?

These are much the same as demand, but in a slightly different order. The line-up is as follows: sales and marketing (20.6%); engineering (12.4%); administration (11.7%); transport and logistics (9.6%); customer services (9.3%); human resources (7.6%); accounting and finance (6.3%); IT (6.2%), production (5.4%); and third-language skills (2.1%).

Are demands for skills changing in Thailand?

Certainly big changes are coming. According to our Manpower Marketing Manager, Miss Suthida Kanjanakantikul, the year 2018 will see a new market trend driven by the digital transformation. This will impact both on the work environment and recruitment. Strong government pressures in this direction are matched in both the public and private sector. The rapid emergence of the digital economy will affect every aspect of business activity.

Why do employers use Manpower contract labour rather than their own direct hired labour?

The main advantage of using Manpower contract employees is flexibility. Many employers have a long-term labour force but require additional workers to meet the demands of seasonal or exceptional labour needs. These requirements can be ideally met by using contract labour.

Furthermore, employers often have requirements for short-term temporary replacements for regular employees who are absent for reasons of sickness, maternity leave or personal commitments. Manpower clients can call at short notice for temporary staff to be employed for just a day, a week or a month, without all the complications of direct hire.

Are Manpower prospective contract employees subject to Thailand labour law requirements?

Manpower strictly abides by Thailand labour law, and clients cannot avoid any restrictions by using Manpower contract employees. Naturally any particular costs, such as severance pay, are fully covered by Manpower and charged to clients.

Contract employees are also subject to all the same restrictions, and enjoy all the same privileges as regular employees.

Why do potential workers choose to enrol with Manpower rather than taking regular, long-term jobs?

Manpower has developed a large resource bank of potential recruits for temporary or medium-term employment. There are people who may not be seeking long-term permanent employment, but may prefer seasonal or shorter term assignments.

However Thailand has not yet evidently engaged in the so-called “gig employment” of many Western countries, where young people prefer part-time, occasional, or supplementary work assignments, rather than taking long-term careers involving employee status with large, even prestigious companies. Some contract employees have their own SME businesses, but also seek temporary employment in order to earn extra money to finance their own independent activities.

Manpower has earned the reputation internationally of being a highly ethical employer. What does this mean in terms of contract recruitment?

Manpower has an obligation both to client employers and to the contract employees, who are given the status and title of “associates”. Manpower ensures that all personnel employed through the organisation are well-treated in appropriate working conditions.

The ethical approach of Manpower also extends to equal pay for equal work, gender equality for appointments, and a policy of no racial or religious discrimination. Although these issues can create problems in some countries, there is very little discrimination encountered in Thailand.

Many thanks to Simon Matthews and his staff for explaining the opportunities offered by Manpower Thailand for both employers and prospective “Associates”.

Christopher F. Bruton is Executive Director of Dataconsult Ltd, [email protected]. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.

News Reporter

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