The Southeast Asia startup scene has been booming as the region embraces emerging trends of Industrial Revolution 4.0. There have been reports where experts have predicted that Southeast Asia could be the next Silicon Valley. Amidst disruptive trends of this new age revolution in various industries, the dialogue about how technology advancements are threatening to steal jobs has been ongoing for the past few years in the region.

However, according to the LinkedIn Opportunity Index published recently, Southeast Asian workers seem to be quite optimistic and driven. We have explored this topic before in a previous piece on how Southeast Asia is embracing robot adoption and this is not an employment crisis.

The LinkedIn report says that Indonesians and Filipinos are the most confident when it comes to pursuing opportunities and achieving economic growth this year. Indonesia is at number 1 and the Philippines at number 3 followed by Malaysia on the overall confidence index. According to the report, while most Southeast Asian respondents believe in working hard to get ahead in life, many of them feel that knowing the right people or having the right connections and having equal access to opportunities are equally important.

The report not only talks about things that Southeast Asian workers aspire for but also highlights the main challenges.

Confidence is key

Indonesia takes the top spot on the confidence radar of the LinkedIn Opportunity Index. The report says that Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, is driven by the people’s confidence in their economic growth potential, as well as their confidence in gaining access to and pursuing opportunities they identify as important.

The Philippines has the second most confident workers in the region, followed by Malaysia. Relatively, Singapore lacks behind on the confidence radar. Interestingly, a 2017 National Youth Council report also found that the Singaporean youth is not entirely confident in handling life challenges in general.

The changing work-life balance

The LinkedIn report also found that having a good work-life balance is among the ultimate aspirations for workers of the region. They are more likely to embark on an opportunity if it offers them the right balance between office and personal life. This is strongly echoed by respondents in Singapore followed by Malaysia and the Philippines. Amidst all the chatter about how technology-driven millennials are drifting apart from family values, this element comes as a comforting surprise.

The growing entrepreneurial spirit

The region’s booming startup scene echoes with this finding of the report. It is a well-known fact by now that Southeast Asia has a thriving entrepreneurial spirit and culture. According to the LinkedIn Opportunity Index, in Indonesia and the Philippines, more than half of respondents consider “starting my own business” as their definition of opportunity. In Singapore, the number is relatively low but still quite significant.

The importance of financial security

The survey found that a majority of Southeast Asian respondents believe that the lack of financial security is one of the major challenges in their pursuit of and gaining access to opportunities. Financial security is a must for them to be able to embark upon a new opportunity – be it starting own ventures or switching jobs.

person holding coins

There is a strong desire to get ahead in life through advancing one’s career, building one’s own business and acquiring new skills across the region. But, they strongly believe that overcoming the lack of financial security is essential to be able to realise their dreams and achieve their goals.

Building networks and connections

A significant number of respondents from the region think that the lack of right connections and networks is another hurdle in landing the right opportunities. The report says that the lack of proper connections is considered to be a major hurdle in discovering the right opportunities across the region.

The LinkedIn Opportunity Index throws a positive light on the diligent Southeast Asian workforce while laying out the challenges quite clearly. There have been reports of how technology is facilitating financial inclusion across Southeast Asia slowly. With an increase in the number of people with registered bank accounts, barriers like lack of financial security can be overcome opening doors for easy access to opportunities. It would be interesting to see how these factors come into play and what new trends are set in motion this year.