HK-based tech, Chinese finance firms to hire more in 2021, Michael Page survey finds

20-Jan-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Certain sectors are expected to increase hiring in Hong Kong this year, a survey conducted by recruitment firm Michael Page has found.

The company polled more than 5,500 businesses and 21,000 employees in November and December 2020, across 12 markets in the Asia-Pacific region. In Hong Kong, 27 per cent of the companies polled said they were looking to increase their headcounts, while 54 per cent said they planned to maintain the status quo and 19 per cent said they planned job cuts.

Hiring activity in the city fell by 48 per cent last year following the outbreak of Covid-19, but was expected to trend upwards in 2021.

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“We are already starting to see the early green shoots of a recovery. It’s widely anticipated that 2021 will be a better year than 2020,” said Mark Tibbatts, Michael Page’s managing director in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The survey showed that the pandemic had created winners and losers. Companies in the financial, technology, health care and fast-moving consumer goods sectors were among those expected to step up hiring, while catering, tourism and traditional retail businesses were expected to cut back.

Mainland Chinese financial companies were expected to step up hiring, even if many international firms had frozen or cut back on recruitment, the survey showed.

Hong Kong’s eight new virtual banks were also among companies expected to hire more people. In fact, candidates with cybersecurity and software skills are expected to be the most sought after in the financial sector, as banks, insurance companies and brokerages shift more of their services online.

The survey found 61 per cent of technology professionals were expected to change jobs this year, while 30 per cent were passively open to new job offers. “As technology is taking centre stage in many businesses, highlighting how the employees will be involved in the core business will also help a hiring manager stand out,” Tibbatts said.

In sectors that were expected to cut jobs, the Hong Kong general Chamber of Commerce, the city’s largest industry body, forecast last month that job losses would continue to worsen in the first quarter after the government terminated its six-month salary subsidy initiative in November. Under the scheme, the government paid up to 50 per cent of employees’ salaries, capped at HK$9,000 (US$1,160) per person each month, through employers.

“In general, the tourism and retail sectors will cut jobs, while the digital and information technology industries will hire more,” said George Leung Siu-kay, chief executive of the chamber. The industry body’s 4,000 members hired about a third of all employees in Hong Kong, about 1.3 million, last year.

Hong Kong has been hit by four waves of infections since Covid-19 was first detected in the city in January last year. Its unemployment rate between October and December last year is expected to surpass a 16-year high of 6.4 per cent or about 260,000 people when fourth-quarter data is published on Tuesday. Currently, the city experienced its worst unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent between May and August 2003, during the outbreak of the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

“It is expected that more restaurants, wholesalers and retailers will close down or lay off people to cut costs. The ban on dinning out has discouraged people to spend,” said Peter Shiu Ka-fai, a lawmaker representing the wholesale and retail sector.

Michael Page’s Tibbatts, however, said that while caution might prevail as the government withdraws some of its support for businesses, “demand for talent is likely to increase through the year as the recovery gathers momentum”.


Category: Hong Kong

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