Upgrading new IT talent at the HKCS IT expo
The 1970s was a major recruitment period for IT talent in Hong Kong. As we now make our way through the second decade of the 21st century, around 10,000 IT veterans who started out in the industry in the ’70s are expected to retire in the next few years. Together with the current growth in demand for IT professionals, there are plenty of opportunities for fresh graduates who are interested in a career in IT.
Following the theme of “Nurturing The Next Generation of ICT Talents for HK”, the Hong Kong Computer Society (HKCS) IT Career Expo 2012 welcomes fresh graduates and those interested in the industry to learn more about the development of the IT sector in Hong Kong.
Dr. Louis Ma, HKCS vice-president of professional development, says the expo will provide fresh graduates with plenty of practical and up-to-date information about career options in IT. “The expo will feature 23 booths hosted by service providers and major users of IT such as banks and logistics companies. Visitors to the expo will be able to talk to representatives from various sectors in the IT industry and I’m sure it will be very informative. I want visitors to know that the IT field is about more than just computer programming – it is involved in various industries and has many functions,” he says.
The expo has invited many high-flying IT industry guest speakers to share both their stories of success and insights into the development of IT. Representatives from service providers such as Microsoft, and users of IT services such as HSBC, will speak during the “Talks to CIOs” section of the expo to introduce fresh graduates to the different job aspects that the IT industry can offer.
Another talk, “Entrepreneur Dialogue”, invites young entrepreneurs to share their stories about running their own successful IT business. “HKCS is devoted to helping young people prepare themselves for careers in IT. We have more than 1,000 student members and we continuously inform them about the latest industry trends and job opportunities,” says Ma.
When asked about the future demand for IT talent, Ma said the government’s IT manpower report predicts the number of IT professionals will increase from around 90,000 in 2010 to just under 110,000 in 2018. In addition to the increase in demand, manpower is also needed to replace the 10,000 or so professionals that will retire in the near future. There is also plenty of demand from the mainland as more local entrepreneurs are looking to expand their businesses there.
Ma encourages Hong Kong IT professionals to upgrade themselves continuously in order to stay competitive. “IT is a fast-paced and continually changing industry. One must able to learn quickly and keep learning in order to keep up. It is pretty demanding – you must have a passion for the industry in order to excel,” he says.
To help IT professionals brush up their qualifications, HKCS has introduced professional recognition systems at various levels. “A university degree is not enough for an IT professional nowadays. It is a global trend for IT people to have professional recognition as a way to boost employers’ confidence. For example, HKCS has professional recognition for senior positions such as project director and system architect, and also for less senior posts such as associate project manager and business analyst,” Ma says.
With the IT industry based on providing IT solutions for the commercial world, being equipped with business knowledge is a must for today’s IT professionals. “Local institutes offer BBA programmes in information systems to train IT talent with sound business knowledge. It is important for IT people to have a thorough understanding of how businesses work in order to provide them with suitable IT solutions,” Ma says.
IT people are also encouraged to work on their soft skills to foster relationships with clients. “A successful IT professional should know a client’s business and persuade them to use suitable IT solutions. They need to have soft skills, such as communication skills and negotiation skills, to explain to clients how their businesses can benefit from IT solutions,” Ma says.
The IT industry is a global one and many businesses outsource certain IT functions overseas. According to Ma, the outsourcing of data centres is going to be a major boost for IT talent in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is in an earthquake-free zone and has a reliable power supply and advanced privacy laws. All these are advantageous to the running of data centres,” he says.
In response to this outsourcing trend, local IT professionals no longer focus on programming, which has been outsourced to the mainland and India. They have instead had to become system analysts and project managers who provide IT solutions for businesses. “Helping businesses such as banks and logistics companies set-up application systems will be a big part of the responsibility of IT people in the future, so they must have business sense,” Ma says.
Ma also sees huge potential for IT professionals in the mobile-computing and e-business sector. “The widespread use of smartphones has created demand for games and other software. Many people think e-business ended after the dot-com bubble burst, but e-business is growing steadily and will continue to cause demand for IT talent,” he says.
The Career Expo is a one day event held on September 22 at the Hong Kong Productivity Council’s Conference Hall in Kowloon Tong.
Participants are encouraged to pre-register at the event’s official website www.smartjob.com/itexpo. Those who have pre-registered will be awarded a gift.
HKCS I.T. Career Expo
Date: September 22, 2012 (Sat)
Time: 10.00am – 6.00pm
Venue: Conference Hall, 4/F HKPC Building, 78 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon
Details and registration: www.smartjob.com/itexpo