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IT hiring cools down in Hong Kong

Sheila Lam (Computerworld HK) | Feb. 11, 2014
Hong Kong's IT job market will see a stable year in 2014. Despite positive business growth expectation, only 21% of Hong Kong IT executives said their firms plan to hire immediately, and 48% have no plans to hire new staff at all in 2014, according to the latest survey by Computerworld Hong Kong and Enterprise Innovation.

Declining: project management
One skill that declined in demand from 2012 was project management, which dropped from 32% in 2012 to 26% this year. Data center management fell also, from 21% to 14%. Although the government has been trying to boost Hong Kong's regional data center prowess, development has been slow in the past few years.

Google's decision to pull out of its data center plan in Hong Kong may also be a contributing factor in the lower stated demand for data center management skills.

Nonetheless, the Hays 2014 Q1 Quarterly Report — a guide from the recruitment firm to identify hotspots of recruitment activities — reported that infrastructure project managers remain skills in demand.

"At this time of year, turnover will rise and candidates seek their next opportunity. As a result, these professionals will be in high demand to replace departing staff," stated the Hays report. "We will see high demand around the infrastructure space as more projects are deployed."

The report also stated that hiring for database administrators is a hotspot, as several multi-national corporations are running large migration projects to unify their databases into a central database, creating demand for skills in this area.

Contract roles popular
According to Lam from Manpower, IT contract roles are becoming more prevalent among both employers and job seekers, bringing a more active recruitment market.

Although the survey indicates 40% of local IT executives currently have no contract staff, about one-third (31%) stated more than 10% of its IT team are contractors, with 5% of them having an IT staff of over 50% contractors.

Lam added that the top three major IT contract employers in Hong Kong are the government, software and managed service providers, as well as the banking and finance sector.

"The government has always hired long term contractors," she said. "But more employers from the banking sector, who used to hire short-term contractors for specific projects, are starting to raise the renewal rate."

Many enterprises may not have the headcount to hire full-time permanent IT staff, but projects must still be deployed and maintained, thus moving the hiring expenses under the contracting budget, said Lam.

"The renewal rate could be as high as 90-95%," she said. "More employers are also offering contract staff packages and benefits similar to those of their permanent staff."

Lam added that job seekers also understand the local IT environment, and many are open to accepting contract roles. "They don't see much difference between contract and permanent roles," said Lam. "Some senior application experts prefer contract arrangements as these employment arrangements allow them to take a three-month break between projects."

On the outlook of the local IT recruitment market in 2014, Lam said contracting roles appear to drive more recruitment activities. The latest Hays Quarterly Report also stated more IT service providers are moving their staff directly under its clients' payroll, and: "as a result, demand will rise on the company side, with employers more open to contract candidates."


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