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Hong Kong’s tech industry needs multi-skilled candidates to meet changing needs in the region’s burgeoning market

Published on Saturday, 08 Aug 2015
Hong Kong’s tech industry needs multi-skilled candidates to meet changing needs in the region’s burgeoning market

Employers in the technology sector are no longer seeking graduates with a particular specialisation – the so called one-trick ponies – as they are looking for those with an ability to hone multiple skills in response to changing industry needs in the digital age.

This doesn’t mean they want to hire a jack of all trades. They are increasingly looking for high-potential graduates with a capacity for agile thinking, and strong core skills that make them adaptable. Tech employees in particular need to keep abreast of tech trends and be able to cope with complexity, ambiguity and different challenges. This is the foundation upon which other skills are developed. 

If you’re a graduate with limited experience, you will need to demonstrate that you have the potential for adaptability and critical thinking that is sought by large and growing companies. It may sound like the title of another self-help book, but the potential to go from good to great is what employers are after. 

While graduates — and indeed all job hunters — have to brand and differentiate themselves, while working out how best to showcase their limited experience, employers face the same challenge. Companies that make compelling offers are more likely to attract the best candidates. Company branding starts with recruitment, and multi-pronged approaches to securing talent are being adopted by industry leaders in the tech sector. Firms are constantly looking for ways to get the attention of high-potential candidates, even when they don’t have any vacancies. Their strategy is to maintain a pool of top-notch candidates on file for when opportunities arise. 

Recruitment methods are changing too. Companies have moved on from using only headhunters and recruitment agencies. New strategies include using internal recruiters, LinkedIn, and other inventive methods. 

An increase in international labour mobility, fuelled by a shortage of skilled individuals, means that companies now need to worry about local and international competitors. Companies are increasingly aware that providing an attractive workplace is very important. Many big brands and multinationals have a reputation for offering state-of-the-art offices and benefits for their staff.

The use of mobile technology by HR is on the rise. In Asia-Pacific, 46 per cent of companies surveyed by Towers Watson planned to use mobile technology in their HR transformation efforts. That’s below 64 per cent in Europe and 78 per cent in the US, but still a significant percentage — and one that’s up from 36 per cent in 2014.   

Theneed for a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is increasingly important for tech companies, where organisational structures are undoubtedly becoming flatter — and not just for the big brands, but for start-ups and junior-to-mid level employees too. A good EVP should encompass brand strength and reputation, business culture and ethics, salary and benefits, training, career opportunities, and good internal communications – all things that are important vehicles for attracting and retaining talent.  

In recent years, technology companies in the US have received considerable media attention about a gender imbalance among staff, particularly at senior levels. Trends in Asia-Pacific suggest that, in order to compete, tech companies here — like firms in other sectors — have to embrace inclusion and diversity. The best companies are now offering greater work-life flexibility — including working from home and on-site childcare facilities — making themselves more attractive to female employees. 

Turning the spotlight on Hong Kong, the city still has its challenges. The mainland is attracting more resources, including skilled talent from Hong Kong, which is putting upward pressure on salaries. 

The good news for graduates, and those with a few years of experience in the technology sector, is that the job market in Hong Kong is great at the moment. 

Hong Kong tech salary budgets are projected to rise 4.5 per cent this year and the same amount again next year — up slightly from 4.3 per cent in 2014. While the increases are seemingly modest, there is a clear trend of rewarding the top performers. 

On the mainland, salaries are growing at a faster rate amid an explosion in the number of local tech companies, which are competing for talent with the multinationals operating there. 

Mainland tech sector salary budgets are expected to rise 9.1 per cent this year and by the same percentage next year.

Rapid adoption of the cloud was seen first in the US, followed by Europe. Asia is now catching up fast, creating an increasing demand in this area. Junior-to-middle managers with five to seven years of experience in cloud technology are now highly sought after.

Meanwhile, large technology companies, from San Francisco to Hangzhou to Shenzhen, continue to diversify, offering a broad range of products and services, from programming to retail to healthcare to banking to media, and becoming conglomerates. Their hiring needs are equally diverse and pronounced. 

One major benefit for Hong Kong employers is the SAR’s strong regulatory backbone. There’s a demand for talent in the regulatory and compliance space within the tech sector — as well as financial services — in a global context where regulation hasn’t kept up with innovation. 

In all companies that use technology, expertise is needed to ensure business continuity, along with adherence to the law and insurance requirements. Also, in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) space, due diligence in communications and technology is now critical; it can make or break deals. After all, a company’s internal cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. 

Hong Kong therefore remains a regional hub for business and M&As. It all goes to make the city a perfect location for those with the right technology skills and experience.

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as HK tech sector is bubbling up.

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