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Building pipelines

Hong Kong will see an escalating need for property-management professionals in the next decade as more property-development plans are launched, said Gordon Wu, director of property management and operations at The Link Management, at the Career Forum.

He added that the city will need 800 more managerial-level property-management professionals and 4,000 supervisory practitioners over the coming 10 years.

"This will be a challenging task as there are, on average, only about 100 professionally trained fresh graduates joining the industry every year," Wu said. Meanwhile, about 300 others who are studying property-management courses are mostly employed.

The Career Forum saw Wu join forces with Ellis Ip, senior deputy general manager at Well Born Real Estate Management, in a talk to explain the career opportunities in property management. Anthony Yau, chairman of the external affairs committee at the Hong Kong Institute of Housing, moderated the talk.

Wu started the discussion by explaining the changing model of property management in Hong Kong. From the walk-up buildings ( tong laus) of the '60s to the large-scale residential estates, commercial buildings and shopping malls of the '80s, the roles of property managers have expanded and spun off to cover building maintenance, legal practice and asset management.

"The number of private buildings [in Hong Kong] has grown from 38,000 in 2003 to 46,000 in 2013. The use of property-management services has also surged. According to the Census and Statistics Department, among the 70,000 people working in the property-management profession, only 11,000 are managers or executives. The rest are frontline staff," Wu said.

"If we are building 470,000 more residential units, as well as other properties in the coming 10 years as stated in the Chief Executive's policy address, we need to train up more talent to be managerial-level professionals."

To elevate the professional standards of property-management practitioners, the industry is proposing the establishment of a licensing mechanism for property-management companies and practitioners. This is to ensure service quality, enhance public awareness of professional requirements and promote sound property management.

"A professional qualification is only an entry ticket to career success," Ip said. "It is more important for candidates to have a passion for property management." He added that the industry is a people-orientated business and entrants have to be ready to handle complaints. "You won't have any more temper to lose by the time you reach my age," he said.

Surveyors also play a key role in the property sector and forum visitors had the chance to listen to Simon Kwok, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, explain the various career prospects in the surveying industry.