Talent pipeline gets squeezed
Nicolas Borit, Dragages Hong Kong's managing director, says to maximise talent flexibility and provide employees with job security, young engineers who join Dragages learn competency skills in civil and building techniques.
"Whenever infrastructure projects are in a civil or building phase, we have the professionals in place to provide the solutions," he says, adding that the strategy also ensures a stable workforce and sustainable pipeline of engineers.
Typically, graduate engineers who join the firm spend the first four to five years rotating between projects, learning civil and building engineering skills. Echoing the prevalent industry view, Borit says the sector needs more talent.
According to the department of civil and environmental engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, graduates of the bachelor of engineering in civil and structural engineering have excellent opportunities to work in a range of areas, such as government departments, engineering consulting industries, construction firms, and international engineering industries.
A civil engineering education is also a good foundation for careers as middle- to top-level managers, as well as sales and technical representatives.
Professor Sean Tang, associate dean for research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's (CUHK) faculty of engineering, sees plenty of jobs from cross-border co-operation with mainland firms that have recently located in the Hong Kong Science Park.
Hence, the CUHK has established new offerings such as a master of philosophy and doctorate in biomedical engineering.
"Biomedical engineers are key in designing innovative medical instruments and sensors, deploying the emerging information infrastructure, creating new biomaterials, and developing medical biotechnologies," says Tang.
Meanwhile, as Hong Kong's bourse seeks to entice mining firms to list on the city's stock exchange, experts say potential mining engineers could be missing out due to a lack of university programmes locally.
"There is such a demand for mining engineers, geologists and people with mining qualifications in China," says Paul Fowler, a director with Hong Kong-based Rockhound, which provides technical valuations and services to the mining, energy and natural resources industry in Asia Pacific.
"At the moment, Hong Kong is not producing anyone through the universities who is capable of taking advantage of the opportunities that exist on the mainland where Chinese language skills are a must," says Fowler.
Joseph Pui, also a director with Rockhound, says Hong Kong should have the human engineering software to meet growing developments.
"Engineers working in the mining, energy and natural resources sector are exposed to a range of environments and challenges. The work can be very rewarding," says Pui.
According to speciality chemicals company Lanxess, continued demand from the mainland's chemical industry will fuel strong growth and demand for chemical engineers.
To recruit and retain workers, Lanxess provides various talent development activities as well as its Lanxess Academy, set up to "[allow staff] to take ownership of projects and give them the opportunity to develop new skills, [so they can] show the company what they can do," says a Lanxess spokesperson.