Hong Kong Employers Report Positive Hiring Plans for 4th Quarter

Respectable hiring plans are reported by Hong Kong employers with the most favorable hiring climate expected in the finance, real estate & insurance and services sectors, according to 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for the 4th Quarter.


Released by Manpower Services (Hong Kong) Limited, the survey was conducted by interviewing 800 employers in Hong Kong and over 65,000 public and private employers in 42 countries and territories to anticipate the fourth-quarter global hiring plans.


Twenty percent of respondents interviewed in Hong Kong expect to add employees over the next three months, while only 5% of them predict reducing staffing levels. 73% of them expect no employment changes in Q4 2013. When seasonal variances removed from the data, Hong Kong’s Net Employment Outlook stands at a respectable +14%; slightly stronger both quarter-over-quarter (up 1 percentage point) and year-over-year (up 3 percentage points).


Employers in all six industry sectors surveyed expect to continue adding to their staffing levels during the fourth quarter of 2013 with four of the six sectors surveyed reporting improved Outlooks. However, hiring prospects soften in two sectors quarter-over-quarter. In a year-over-year comparison, only employers in
the Manufacturing sector plan to reduce staffing levels.


The most optimistic hiring plans are reported in the finance, real estate & insurance sector with employers reporting an outlook of +18%, up 3 percentage points quarter-on-quarter and 5 percentage points year-on-year.


The global financial headwind has been triggering a growing awareness of corporate risk management, where demand is particularly prominent in Asia to increase the pool of actuaries.


According to data from the Actuarial Society of Hong Kong, there are only about 1,000 actuaries locally, primarily working in the insurance industry.


"Demand for experienced actuaries from the mainland China is expected to continue when it becomes one of the world’s top three insurance markets,” says  Lancy Chui, Regional Managing Director of ManpowerGroup Greater China operations.


On the banking & finance front, despite ongoing business restructuring within the financial institutions, there is still demand for talent in front line revenue-generating roles and relationship manager positions for those who possess solid experience around SME or mainland Chinese corporate clients to drive business growth.


"In addition to client-facing roles, hiring expectations in risk management and compliance continue as companies are cautious managing risk,” adds Chui.“On the real estate side, after the introduction of doubling stamp duty early this year, property sales growth slowed and several property agency firms have reduced their staffing levels,” said Chui.


A favorable hiring climate is expected in the services sector, as the Outlook continues to stand positive at +17%. Hiring plans improve slightly both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year by 2 and 5 percentage points, respectively.


“According to government statistics, IT vacancies increased over 8% when compared to last year. With the market in need of cloud computing, mobile applications and data centres, job prospects for qualified IT talent continue to remain steady,”  Chui commented. She continued, “The emerging popularity of digital media through smart phones, tablets and mobile devices has strengthened hiring for talent with background in social media, ecommerce or online advertising across the roles of mobile application development, sales, marketing and product development.”

Tourism is another mainstay of the Hong Kong economy − accounting for 4.5% of GDP. Statistics from the HK Tourism Board indicate visitor arrivals in the first half of 2013 rose 13.6% over the corresponding period last year.


"If tourism continues to flourish, growth in the critical areas within the services sector, including catering, hotels, and restaurants will continue to expand. It is encouraging to see the number of hotels being built this year with a view to adding extra room capacity to the tourism sector. Clearly, job prospects within the hotel sector are expected to remain positive,” Chui added.


The hiring pace in the mining & construction sector remains positive with the Outlook of +16%, relatively stable from three months ago (up 1 percentage point), and strengthening moderately from the same quarter last year (up 5 percentage points).


“Various infrastructure and railway construction projects continue to place significant pressure on labor demand, where such large scale projects have stimulated hiring activities within the construction sector,” said Chui, “However, sourcing and holding skilled construction workers will remain the major challenging issue for employers as these projects continue. Nearly 5,000 jobs exist within the hundreds of railway construction sites making up the five railway construction projects currently underway.”


Job seekers are likely to benefit from an upbeat hiring pace in the wholesale & retail trade sector (+15%), where the Outlook improves moderately by 6 percentage points compared to the prior quarter and strengthens slightly by 2 percentage points year-over-year.


“The latest retail sales statistics released reflect a year-on-year improvement of 14.7% with much of this growth spurred by mainland tourist spending due to the gold price plunge and appreciation of Renminbi, and both of which are fueling retail sales of luxury items,” Chui explained.


Slower quarter-over-quarter hiring is reported by employers of the transportation & utilities sector where the outlook (+12%) has weakened for three consecutive quarters but it remains stronger than the same quarter last year (up 3 percentage points).


“Despite registering a year-on-year improvement on air traffic statistics across passenger traffic, cargo throughput and throughout the first seven months of 2013, the gloomy picture for exports and imports of goods did result in a scaling back of cargo volume from March to May in a month-over-month comparison. This, clearly, impacted employers’ confidence to hire,” Chui explained.


Hiring plans remains positive in the manufacturing sector (+5%), but the outlook slips to its weakest level since Q2 2012, with declines in both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year by 4 and 5 percentage points, respectively.


“A recent survey about 1,000 mainland SMEs from manufacturing industry in China showed weakened second-quarter business confidence in economic growth, expecting slower business environment improvement over the coming months. The uncertain macro economic situation has weakened hiring expectations within the sector,” Chui added.


Hong Kong is one of 42 countries and territories that take part in the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. In the Asia Pacific region, hiring plans are strongest in India, Taiwan and Singapore.


Meanwhile, the Outlook in Australia continues to trend softer, declining to its weakest level in more than four years.


Globally, employers in 29 surveyed regions report positive fourth-quarter hiring plans. Hiring expectations are strongest in India, Taiwan, Panama, Singapore and Brazil. The weakest opportunities for job seekers are expected in Italy, Spain and Finland.

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