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Employers upbeat on Q4 amid global gloom

Published on Friday, 23 Sep 2011

Despite uncertainty in many of the world's economies, Hong Kong companies remain generally upbeat regarding fourth quarter recruitment objectives.

A recent survey involving more than 800 employers, by Manpower Group recruitment specialists, showed that companies in six sectors anticipate solid headcount gains in the fourth quarter (see below).

On a quarterly basis, hiring prospects improved in three of the six industries. The services sector outlook strengthened by 13 percentage points, while 2 percentage point increases were reported in both the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and in mining and construction. For wholesale and retail, outlook fell by 6 percentage points.

Year on year, employers reported stronger hiring intentions in four of the six industry sectors.

"Of course, in any forecast, there are monthly fluctuations driven by various events, but similar to the third quarter, hiring prospects remain fairly stable across the six sectors we polled," says Ian Strutton, director of talent resourcing firm Experis, part of the Manpower Group. 

Strutton says in the service sector, in particular, catering and cleaning firms are hiring again, having factored in the minimum wage requirement.

Separating information technology (IT) in banking and financial services from commercial organisations, Strutton says the demand from commercial firms for permanent IT staff remains strong. A trend is also emerging in the banking and financial services sector to hire IT professionals on a contract basis.

"Banks and financial services firms are not cutting back on full-time IT employees. Hiring contract workers provides banks with the flexibility to complete projects without putting pressure on their permanent headcount budget," says Strutton.

He adds that within the financial services sector, hiring candidates with technical financial modelling skills remains an on-going challenge.

In the private banking sector, Strutton says there is a noticeable increase in the number of mainland banks seeking to hire experienced accounts personnel. "There is a battle to attract talented [client relationship managers]," says Strutton.

He adds that in luxury retail, demand for upmarket products from mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong has created a niche market for service personnel capable of providing exemplary levels of customer service.

"We see quite a bit of hiring movement from the hospitality industry moving into the luxury goods environment," says Strutton. 

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