Career Advice Job Market Trend Report

Survey reveals retention troubles

Highlights from the recent CPA Australia 2012 Hong Kong Human Capital Survey point at the need for the government to facilitate cross-sector collaboration in order to address human capital issues in Hong Kong.

Employee retention was a key concern unearthed by the survey, which questioned 273 accounting professionals from a variety of organisations. One in three respondents indicated that they are looking to change jobs in the next six months, while one in four said they were unsure if they wanted to remain in their current position.

"With the current global economic crisis and a volatile labour market, it is concerning that only 40 per cent of respondents were sure that they wanted to stay in their current job," says Bernard Poon, divisional president - Greater China, CPA Australia. "This has a significant implication on the cost of business."

Some 56 per cent of respondents identified entry-level positions as having the highest turnover, while 33.8 per cent identified the highest turnover in middle management.

These figures are further compounded by the perceived lack of technical and soft skills among Gen Y workers, as this is the generation that is now filling these roles.

A total of 54.9 per cent of respondents believe that Hong Kong's Gen Y is not equipped with the right technical and soft skills to sustain and drive the city's economic growth. Additionally, 55.7 per cent of the respondents believe that Hong Kong's current education system is insufficient to equip Gen Z with practical skills for the workplace.

The data highlights the generational divide that exists in the workplace. "Gen Y and Gen Z workers want to spend more time with friends and family and stay socially connected, but still want to have responsibility and be remunerated well. We need to strike a healthy balance for them," says Poon.

CPA Australia recommends a long-term collaboration between academic institutions and private entities. This would consist of representatives from professional associations, businesses, secondary schools, universities and the public sector advising on entry-level workplace requirements and integrating students into real-life work environments.

It also proposes a tax-incentive scheme for private entities, with a deduction on expenses incurred or contributions made by Hong Kong companies supporting mentorship or internship programmes for local students.

"This initiative is designed as a long-term sustainable programme, as opposed to current internship programmes that place a student in a workplace and neglect to follow up with ongoing support," says Poon.