HK staff spoiled for choice – for now
Career prospects for hospitality and tourism professionals from Hong Kong are bright, given the boom in the number of Chinese visitors of late. But much more lucrative jobs await them - if they are open to the array of opportunities awaiting on the mainland and beyond.
"Hong Kong has an incredibly diverse, educated and very talented workforce that relishes opportunities and is very hard working," says Regan Taikitsadaporn, vice-president for human resources operations in Asia Pacific at Marriott International.
"We are seeing a strong increase in Mandarin language skills among Hong Kong nationals - and others living in the city - as well as English and Cantonese, which puts them in an excellent position to work internationally, especially on mainland China," he says, adding that there have been "countless cases" when people working for Marriott International in Hong Kong have moved to sister hotels or positions on the mainland, or further afield throughout its global network.
He sees no big challenge in attracting Hong Kong talent to work in China. "I think most of them value international experience. We also give our Hong Kong managers short-term assignments, assisting on projects and hotel openings in China, which gives them the opportunity for exposure."
Jonathan Zeman, chief operating officer of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, believes that Hong Kong hospitality workers are facing stiff competition from mainlanders. "They are catching up very quickly, especially in these past five to eight years. But Hong Kong people still have the edge in terms of international exposure, attention to detail and quality and excellence," he says.
"It is important for Hong Kong locals to continue to develop themselves and understand and adapt to mainland business cultures. In the end, it's not really about being a Hong Kong local or a Chinese local, it's about how you adapt to your environment, and use your experience to add value to your team and your employer," Zeman adds.
"As some of the more developed cities in mainland China continue to place more focus on the service industry - including tourism and hospitality - there will be an even higher demand for more talented professionals to join the field."
Zeman says the same trend has been seen in Macau's development, and to some extent in Singapore.
Ken Chu, chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group, says that the shortage of well-paid jobs for graduates in Hong Kong means they are turning to China. "Hong Kong citizens will, generally, find higher paying positions there," he adds.