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Construction firm seeks fresh talent

Published on Friday, 03 Sep 2010
Andy Johnson

Hong Kong's construction market is certainly booming: once contracts are awarded, the appointed contractors are expected to swing into action immediately.

"Once a project is awarded we want to start the next day," says Andy Johnson, human resources manager at Leighton Contractors (Asia) in Hong Kong. "So we have a team ready to mobilise and preparations for a site office already under way."

It is well-oiled process, seen most recently after confirmation of a contract to build the approaches to the new Tsim Sha Tsui terminus for the MTR's express rail link - Contract 811B. That is just the latest in a string of infrastructure and heavy civil engineering projects the firm has been able to secure.

Others on the go include the Central Reclamation Phase III, Express Rail Link - Contract 822, North Lantau Hospital, tunnelling for Harbour Area Treatment Scheme and storm water relief at Lai Chi Kok, and the redevelopment of Ocean Park.

With the construction sector once again riding the crest of wave following the post-1998 slump, there is a real sense of optimism about new tenders and general prospects.

"We are very bullish on opportunities in Hong Kong for the next five-plus years and expect to participate in some exciting projects," Johnson says.

In view of that, there are plans to significantly increase headcount in Hong Kong, with steady hiring across all main disciplines. There will be new positions for civil and building engineering, design, planning and environmental management, and project management and site administration. To support expansion, there will also be a range of other openings in areas such as IT, quantity surveying and community liaison.

"With the expected volume of work, the challenge is to recruit skilled and experienced people," he says. "We are recruiting at all levels to enable us to run multibillion dollar projects. As a  priority, we look in Hong Kong to source expertise."

During times of growth, the integration of new staff into the Leighton culture is important. Johnson notes that "welcoming people into the organisation goes beyond the traditional staff induction. For example, we have established several peer groups to help our people to develop their internal and external networks. The peer groups also provide social and professional development activities".

Leighton is very conscious of the need to train the next generation of construction practitioners. Among a suite of training and development initiatives, including the launch  of its new dedicated Knowledge and Skills Centre, the company has a structured four-year programme guiding trainee engineers and quantity surveyors to chartered status.

"This is an exciting time to be in the industry," Johnson says. "Construction went through a bit of dip, but it has turned the corner and, with government and other projects coming on stream, we see a very positive environment." 

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