DigitalCFO Newsroom | 12 December 2021
The job market in Hong Kong is being driven by a combination of rising confidence in the market, shifts in the talent demand and rapid development of technologies post-pandemic.
The job market in Hong Kong is being driven by a combination of rising confidence in the market, shifts in the talent demand and rapid development of technologies post-pandemic, according to the digital Salary Survey 2022 by Robert Walters and Walters People, the world-leading specialist professional recruiter brands under the Robert Walters Group. Key findings show that nearly 90% of employers in Hong Kong are concerned about employee retention when market conditions improve, while 85% of them also concern the shortage in talent and skills, in particular within senior and team leader levels.
Hong Kong Overview
Overall, Hong Kong market rebounded strongly in 2021. There was a good deal of pent-up demand to start the year and hires that would possibly have been made in 2020 under normal conditions were executed in early 2021, leading to a glut of hiring. Talent pool has started to become limited in all areas especially within the technology and financial services sectors due to demand for digitalisation, travel restrictions and higher level of emigration.
Findings also show that candidates consider factors beyond compensation and benefits when looking for jobs, such as if companies offer good work-life balance, access to latest technology, hybrid working and if the company’s positions on social and political matters align with their own etc.
Digitalisation and transformation will continue to be a key growth area across many sectors
Companies are becoming more agile with their workforce post-COVID and are speeding up their transformation projects. Findings show that 95% of tech professionals are confident about job opportunities. It is anticipated that the hottest technical skills in 2022 will be big data analysis, machine learning, AI and cyber security across both permanent and contract roles. For job movers possessing in-demand or niche skill sets, salary increments of 15-20% would be expected, and could be as high as 40% for some senior positions.
Demand for hybrid jobs has intensified in the commerce sectors
Across HR, marketing and finance functions there is an increase in hybrid jobs where more and more jobs are combining skill sets that traditionally do not fall under the same roles, or candidates in technical disciplines are expected to apply more soft skills such as analysis and management skills in their jobs. For example, companies will be seeking for finance candidates that are highly analytical with strong commercial mindset who can analyse big data and convert this into commercial results. This shift in demand for talent has created challenges to hiring managers as the broader the job requirements and more specialised the role are, the harder it will be to attract the best talent that are often experienced candidates.
The financial services candidate pool is shrinking with higher demand for ESG-related skills
Travel restrictions and higher level of emigration mean that financial services professionals who stay may be able to command higher salary increments when they move jobs. With very little hiring of expatriates and many existing ones emigrating from Hong Kong, the percentage of foreign nationals working in the Hong Kong financial services sector especially front office pool will shrink further. The sector has performed strongly and firms are anxious to avoid turnover and focus on retention. Salaries are expected to increase in 2022 with the standard pay rise level of 4-5% reaching 10%. For job movers the previous standard increment of 15% is now closer to 20%, although it can vary somewhat depending on the individual context.
On the other hand, with Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) edging into finance’s mainstream, it is expected that ESG factors are increasingly taking centre stage within investment strategies by corporates and financial services in 2022 and beyond. However, supply of professionals that possess sustainability-related skills are limited in Hong Kong so the competition will be fierce.
Companies are advised to capitalise on the opportunities brought by the new normal
The pandemic has forced companies and workforces to scramble towards hybrid working and the experience has shaped the perspectives of work. Industry survey conducted by Robert Walters reveals 78% of professionals said that the offer of hybrid working arrangements would make them more likely to join a prospective employer.
Ricky Mui, Managing Director – Greater China of Robert Walters Group says, “Given the shortage of candidates and the increasing demand for hybrid jobs, it’s expected that the competition for the best candidates will be fierce in 2022. Candidate experience will be key in attracting talent and businesses embracing hybrid workplace effectively will be recognised as an employer of choice. At the same time, having a robust equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policy, as well as adopting new strategies to broaden the talent pool will ensure companies gain an edge over their competitors. “
Steady growth in contract roles for key projects drives demand for tech professionals and junior staff
Market rebound has also driven companies to catch up with projects that were on hold during COVID. During busy periods with an increased workload, contract professionals that can alleviate a short-term skills or resource gap will be particularly valuable to hiring managers where the recruitment process is more drawn out due to a narrow talent pool with few suitable candidates. Distinct recovery especially within the junior permanent recruitment market is also expected across technology and business transformation project roles.
Carly Adams, Director of Walters People Hong Kong, says, “Hiring managers need to be prepared to run an efficient and timely recruitment process in junior roles and contract recruitment. Time delays between interview rounds or non-essential interview participants will very often mean that they will miss out on their preferred candidate in a market such as this.”