Complaining about a shortage of skilled technology professionals, Hong Kong’s business sector keeps reminding the government that it should invest more on IT education.
While agreeing that education is vital, Yat Siu, CEO of game developer Outblaze, says attracting talent from overseas is equally important, if not more.
“IT talent shortage is a global phenomenon. Hong Kong is not necessarily worse than other cities like London and New York in this regard,” he says.
But relying on domestic resources is not the only way. As long as we can attract capable people to Hong Kong, it can be an effective approach too, says Siu, pointing out that Silicon Valley also gets it talent from around the world.
At Outblaze, 30 percent of the staff is from overseas, including Japan, China, India, US, the Philippines and South Korea, as well as some European nations.
Hong Kong has an edge in attracting IT talent from abroad, primarily because it won’t be a big problem for companies to apply for work visa for foreign staff, Siu says.
Meanwhile, a low-tax regime and rule of law are also big draws.
Since English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, the language factor is another advantage.
In contrast, if one were to go to Shanghai “it will be very hard to get by if one does not speak Mandarin,” Siu noted.
Hong Kong in fact can be a nice meeting point of talents from both the East and West.
“It may be a lot harder for a Shanghai engineer to go to work in the US or for an American to adapt to life in Shanghai, but it could be much easier for both of them to come to Hong Kong” to work on a project together, Siu says.
As there are a lot of people looking for work overseas, there is a great talent pool that Hong Kong can tap.
Through social media and connections with universities, Outblaze gets considerable number of inquiries from programmers and software engineers around the world seeking work in Asia. The company sometimes even flies down promising candidates to Hong Kong for interviews.
As the company has offices in some other Asian cities, Outblaze also uses the network to source talent for its HK operation.
Citing the Philippines as an example, Siu said the office there gets a steady supply of programming and engineering talent, thanks to the enormous number of computer science graduates in the country.
From time to time, some of the Filipino employees have expressed interest in moving to Hong Kong. If there are suitable openings, Outblaze has applied for work visas and brought those people over here.
If Hong Kong wants to become more attractive to expats, the city should improve the air quality and provide more international schooling options for the foreigners’ children, Siu added.
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