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IT pros hiring heats up in Hong Kong (Part 1)

Sheila Lam | March 6, 2012
Despite uncertainty in the Eurozone and rumors of layoffs, 64 percent of IT executives still plan to hire within the year

Bottom Line

• Despite uncertainty in the Eurozone and rumors of layoffs, 64% of IT executives still plan to hire within the year

• Project management is the most sought-after skill, while cloud computing drives demand for infrastructure and networking managers

• Instead of budget restrain the limited talent labor pool is the major challenge for Hong Kong's IT executives

Hong Kong enterprises are beginning 2012 in an active hiring mode. Although economic uncertainty in the Eurozone and news of layoffs among major banks continue, the Computerworld Hong Kong IT Skills and Hiring Trends 2012 Survey showed 65% of the surveyed IT executives indicated they plan to hire during the next 12 months, as compared with 55% two years ago.

The study was conducted in January 2012 and surveyed 160 IT executives in Hong Kong with hiring responsibilities (out of a total of 230 surveyed). The study also shows IT workers are urgently needed in early 2012--among those that are planning to hire within the year, 47% seek to hire immediately. Compared to our previous study in October 2009, when the local economy was recovering from the financial crisis, only 25% of respondents were in immediate hiring mode. (Figure 1)

Recruitment activities for IT roles may subside in the second half of 2012, as fewer IT executives plan to hire in the next 6-12 months this year (18%). But uncertainty of hiring has dropped significantly, from 25% in 2009 to only 12% in 2012.

The encouraging findings didn't surprise local recruitment experts. Candy Ho, consultant for IT&T at recruitment agency Hudson, said hiring will remain active in 2012. Ho, who covers IT recruitment for general commercial sector and technology providers, said she expects stable growth in hiring within the IT services sector, driven by rising adoption in cloud computing and the Hong Kong government's datacenter strategy. In the general commercial sector, retail was active in 2011 due to development on the mainland, said Ho, adding that hiring momentum is expected to continue in 2012.

With the rising adoption of smartphones and mobile marketing, Robert Walters's manager of IT commerce division Evan Chin also expects demand for mobile and Web programming skills to drive turnover in the local IT job market.

Volatile year for banking IT

However, the encouraging signs in the general commercial sector don't apply to the banking and finance sector. "IT professionals in the banking and financial sector should expect a volatile year," said Mignon Kwok, a consultant at Hudson who specializes in IT for the banking and finance sector. "Those currently looking for a job should expect a longer interval before landing one."

Kwok explained that much of the new IT hiring in the banking sector is related to application-support roles for traders. But with the uncertainty and volatile financial markets, more financial institutes are freezing head-counts on the trading floors, thus any supporting roles on the trading floors would be affected for quite a while.


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