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Hong Kong’s job market buoyed by economic expansion: Hays Quarterly Hotspots

Updated: 01 Mar 2014
Product and Manufacturing Engineers, Retail Interior Designers and Network Security Consultants are just three of the professionals sought by employers as Hong Kong’s economy gathered momentum in the second quarter.
Hong Kong’s economy expanded 3.3 per cent from a year earlier, led by an increase in spending by mainland Chinese tourists. As a result employers are very positive in their hiring intentions and are looking to attract high quality candidates. But they want to recruit without increasing salary levels, says recruiting experts Hays.
According to the recruiter’s latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of skills in demand, employers expect candidates to move laterally with no title or salary uplift. Instead, employers are seeking to attract candidates by offering performance-based promotions, an improved culture and fewer hours. 

“We expect to see an increase in hiring activity this quarter,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.
“While most roles are replacements, some are newly created as organizations move functions into the country or expand.
“We have seen a slight increase in the number of newly created jobs in the banking sector. There is still a steady flow of candidates in most areas due to previous redundancies and reorganisation plans.”
There are some noticeable areas of strength in the economy. According to Hays, Product and Manufacturing Engineers will remain in high demand.
“Given the number of product development companies in Hong Kong, including multinational enterprises (MNEs) that manufacture in Mainland China, experts in product and manufacturing engineering will continue to be required for a vast number of vacancies in various retail sectors,” says Marc.
“Retail Interior Designers are in demand due to the increasing number of shopping mall projects in both Hong Kong and China.
“IT professionals’ salaries are increasing as a consequence of demand and supply. Skilled candidates, such as Network Security Consultants know that their skills are in demand and are therefore asking for a 20 per cent or more salary increase when moving roles,” he said.
A selection of skills in demand in Hong Kong from the Hays Quarterly Hotspots follows:
  • Internal Auditors – Internal Auditors are sought by financial services employers in response to the continued need for more controls and tighter measures.
  • Regulatory Reporting – Similarly, regulatory reporting teams have expanded as banks add more lines of defence, which is fuelling this staffing need both on a permanent and fixed term basis.
  • Resident Architects (China station) – There are very few Resident Architects who are willing to be stationed in China at present, which has led to an increase in demand for such candidates.
  • Retail Interior Designers – These skills are in demand due to the increasing number of shopping mall projects in both Hong Kong and China.
  • Relationship Managers – For commercial and corporate banking, these revenue generating candidates are in high demand. While banks are trying to grow, they are also being very selective in their hiring as they raise their standards of recruitment. Special emphasis is placed on the immediate client connections a candidate can bring. Relationship Managers with four to ten years of experience are in most demand.
  • Credit Analysts – Credit Analysts with local experience are favoured over foreign candidates to complement relationship management hiring. Employers are looking for candidates with between five and 15 years of experience.
  • Facades Project Managers – These professionals are in high demand in response to new Building Curtain Wall construction technology, which has led to very modern and attractive building external wall designs. To implement this new technology, facades and curtain wall specialists including designers are highly sought, yet there is a shortage of such professionals.
  • Building Engineers – Some of the largest main contractors in the industry have commenced large government building projects, which is fuelling demand for Building Engineers. 
  • Registered Structural Engineers – There is a limited number of professionals who have the ability and willingness to go through the numerous assessments and interview required for accreditation. The amount of paperwork and reports that need to be scribed in order to support the application process turns off many professionals. This has created a shortage of registered professionals in the market.
  • Signalling Engineers – Rail projects require Signalling Engineers for the installation, testing and commissioning of rail systems for the new lines and rolling stock. This is a very niche market with a very limited number of candidates in Hong Kong.
  • High Frequency Ultra Low Latency Trading System Development, Algorithmic Trading and RAD Development –Hong Kong’s ever changing finance technology development arena creates ongoing demand for professionals adept in high frequency ultra low latency trading systems, algorithmic trading and rapid application development.  Banking and financial services firms rely increasingly on development professionals to equip traders with the tools and platforms required for a competitive edge against rivals.
  • Real Time Systems Programmers – In trading microseconds can have a huge impact on profitability and risk. As a result, employers want developers who strive to excel and develop expertise in this area. Key programming languages involved are Java, C#, C++ and related technologies. In addition, the majority of banking institutions are moving towards agile methodologies and away from waterfall due to the complementary effect it has on streamlining processes.
  • C&B Managers – Compensation & benefits professionals are in high demand in Hong Kong. This is a very niche HR skill and as companies expand their workforce the skills shortage is leading to a very competitive market.
  • HR Officers – The high turnover rate fuels constant demand for these professionals. HR Officers are often quick to move into new roles and replacing departing staff is a constant requirement.
  • Network Security Consultants (Cisco, Juniper, Barracuda) – Currently there is high demand in Hong Kong’s IT market for skilled and experienced Network Security Consultants. The technical skills in most demand in this space are Cisco Checkpoint, Juniper and we are now starting to see employers ask for Barracuda. This is in addition to the standard skills and certificates required for security consultants. Employers are also demanding industry certifications such as CISSM and CISSP, and on the product side CCIE and CCNA.   
  • Solution Architects, Pre-Sales Consultants and System Engineers – Many organisations are using vendors and systems integrators. This has resulted in demand for Solutions Architects, Pre-Sales Consultants and Systems Engineers.
  • M&A and Corporate Development – We are seeing steady growth in insurance across the region. Companies are looking at strategies to expand their business in the emerging markets and as a result regional strategic planning skills in M&A and Corporate Development are in high demand.
  • Financial Services Regulatory (mainly contentious) - Specialists are in demand to help handle the more stringent post-GFC banking compliance regime.
  • Life Sciences and Healthcare (In-House) - Companies in life sciences and healthcare are seeking out industry-savvy legal expertise
  • Legal Secretaries – Legal Secretaries are always in short supply and high demand as they are extremely well networked and can select who they want to work for and in which law firm. Law firms are very selective in who they hire to support their fee earners, and they are consequently looking for Legal Secretaries who are extremely stable and highly experienced within the relevant department.
  • Procurement Managers – Procurement Managers are in increasing demand as more companies enter the region and the commercial cost of running a business rises. As a result of high prices to maintain steady business flow, procurement professionals are sought for cost savings strategies for higher financial growth.
  • Project Managers –Commercial fit-outservice providers are facing a shortage of sound, corporate cultured Project Managers. Many building management and facilities service providers require large numbers of facilities personnel due to the size and degree of their client property portfolios.
  • Cost Managers – Those Cost Managers who developed their skills in a quantity surveyor role, particularly for commercial clients, are highly sought for both the client side and service provider side. Experts in this area who are personally interested in focusing on cost only rather than cost and contracts are rare since this requires a very analytical skill set and a high degree of attention to detail.
  • Sales Managers (fine wines) – We are seeing increased demand for Sales Managers in the fine wines industry in response to growing demand in restaurant and direct sales channels. Employers are looking for experienced salespeople with fine wine experience and knowledge.
  • Logistics Executives – Companies continue to distribute goods through Hong Kong and as a result logistics professionals are always required to efficiently distribute goods via robust trade-lane solutions to avoid conflicting issues.
  • Supply Chain Managers – Supply chain remains a prominent market since Hong Kong is a centralized hub for transporting goods and services to many parts of Asia Pacific. Supply Chain Managers are needed to regulate the flow of goods and services that are distributed throughout Asia. Demand is highest in the retail and FMCG markets.
For the full list of skills in demand, please view our Hays Quarterly Hotspots.
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