A weakening property market, a slowing Chinese economy and a decline in mainland visitor numbers have fueled worries about Hong Kong’s prospects, but a look at the employment situation suggests that some of the gloom may be unwarranted.
Latest figures show that the unemployment rate in the city remained unchanged — at 3.3 percent — for the three months ended November.
In fact, in a number of sectors, talent shortage could be a continuing trend this year, Armstrong Lee, managing director of Worldwide Consulting Group, wrote in Hong Kong Economical Journal.
Typically at a disadvantage compared with big companies and multinational firms, small and medium-sized enterprises are expected to keep scrambling for talent in 2016.
Among the bright spots, insurance is expected to do particularly well as the sector is yet to fully tap the strong demand from mainland Chinese, who are said to prefer policies from Hong Kong due to better pricing, clearer teams and more customer-friendly claims arrangement.
Information technology is another promising sector.
“A department head of the IT division of a mid-sized bank told me over a dinner that he expects a wave of resignations right after the 2015 bonus is paid, indicating poaching and jog hopping is still quite common in the sector due to strong demand,” said Lee.
With more companies rushing to build up their e-commerce platforms as a way to expand market or cut costs, there would be plenty of such vacancies, he noted.
The new Innovation and Technology Bureau will also spur a stronger wave of innovation and creation of startups, further fueling the need for IT talent.
Elsewhere, the construction sector is also likely to find it hard to find enough qualified workers. Companies have been complaining for years about recruitment difficulties, and Lee cited industry insiders as saying that this will remain a headache in 2016.
Even for the retail industry, the outlook isn’t all gloomy.
Although some luxury brands and jewelry shops are trimming their stores due to weaker sales, other retailers are doing not so bad. Some are actually taking advantage of falling rentals to expand.
“Specific retail groups are offering hundreds of jobs at the moment,” says Lee.
Overall, 2016 could turn out to be an okay year for job hunters.
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