IT matters at ASL
Recruiting good information technology (IT) staff is a serious challenge for Hong Kong companies. The number of people joining the industry has dropped tremendously since a decade ago, when IT was seen as an inspiring and up-and-coming sector.
This could soon change, however, as the move to cloud computing and increasing numbers of data centres results in a greater demand for talent.
“The supply of IT professionals has decreased but the demand has not,” says Catherine Cheng, vice-president of HR and administration at Automated Systems Holdings (ASL). “Staffing for senior positions is quite stable, but there are few young joiners, and IT and telecoms companies always have to fight for talent.”
At least 70 per cent of staff at ASL are technical staff, and there is always a need to recruit more to deliver services for the company’s growing number of new projects.
ASL is planning to recruit more new graduates and provide them with a mentorship programme “to nurture them when they are fresh”, Cheng says.
The company is targeting local and mainland students for its business activities in Hong Kong and the Greater China region.
Cheng says candidates are usually attracted to bigger IT firms such as ASL, which is a listed company and has provided IT solutions for 40 years. In addition to a strong financial foundation, large companies also serve a wider range of clients, which provides staff with more opportunities to work with the latest technology.
“ASL has operations in mainland China and elsewhere in Asia. People looking to take part in cross-territory projects will find working here very interesting,” Cheng says.
She adds that the company focuses on staff career development by offering training on management, leadership, career planning and other soft skills.
“Previously we saw the need to help our technical staff develop interpersonal skills so they can better manage our clients’ expectations. Now we provide training on areas such as communication and time management. We have seen staff benefit from these programmes as they feel less stressful when dealing with clients,” she says.
In the past, IT companies focused mainly on product development, hardware services and support. Now they focus more on providing clients with solutions and project-management services. “An adaptable and innovative mind is needed to face these changes,” Cheng says.