Jobs boost amid building spree
In an industry where expectations are continuously raising the bar, quality construction and property management services are essential to sustain and develop Hong Kong's real estate sector.
Despite tentative sentiments on the property market, according to industry experts, widespread demand for property management professionals, plus a number of major projects in the pipeline, will keep the city's construction and real estate professionals busy.
Share Tai-ki, immediate past president of the Hong Kong Institute of Housing (HKIH), says the government's housing policy proposals, and the plan to increase land supply, indicate the existing number of property management professionals is far from sufficient to satisfy future market demand.
"There is plenty of room for new talent to join the industry," says Share, adding that HKIH members are engaged in the co-ordination and execution of housing services incorporating the design, provision, improvement, rehabilitation, management and administration of all housing types. "Property management covers a diverse range of skills and offers attractive opportunities for youthful talent," adds Share.
Taking a broad look at the hotel construction market, Nigel Harris, Onyx Hospitality Group executive vice-president and chief technical officer, says emerging Asian hospitality markets are creating opportunities for architects, interior designers, project managers and engineers.
"While places such as Hong Kong and Singapore can be considered mature markets, India, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and China provide excellent opportunities for developers and create employment for managers with passion for the industry," says Harris, a keynote speaker at the Architecture and Design Conference recently held in Hong Kong.
According to the December 2011 "STR Global Construction Pipeline Report", Asia-Pacific hotel development comprises about 1,450 hotels totalling more than 355,000 rooms. Harris says market demand is creating widespread employment opportunities.
"In addition to technical know-how, we look for people who are enthusiastic, eager to learn and keen to take our business forward," Harris says.
"There is no substitute for experience. The industry is dynamic, so no matter if you are an engineer or a manager, you need to be flexible and able to adapt quickly to change. In this business, standards are also moving forward, so professionals need to continually upgrade their skills," says Harris.
Before a property can be managed, it needs to be built, which these days almost always involves "green" issues. For Malcolm Lai, head of construction and development at Invesco Real Estate (Asia), the challenge is to balance what is achievable within their projects with what is viable in the market.
Driving demand for architects and designers, Paul Zimmerman, CEO at Designing Hong Kong, who, along with Lai, also took part in the Architecture and Design Conference as a moderator, says Hong Kong has a key role to play in the mainland's urbanisation projects and demand for iconic housing.
"Hong Kong architects and construction firms are extremely efficient at building effective quality living space," says Zimmerman.
Closer to home, he says growing demand for larger affordable homes could create new challenges for architects and construction firms.