Hong Kong’s life sciences recruitment market is grappling with a severe shortage of candidates amid employer expectations of a spike in hiring activity. They are striving to broaden talent pool by looking overseas.
The current condition is leading to stepped-up efforts by multinational companies to attract talent from overseas to fill vacancies in the regional economic hub, according to recruiting experts Hays.
“It is a candidate-short recruitment market as the supply of available talent in Hong Kong can’t meet employers’ increasing needs for professionals in the life sciences sector,” says Dean Stallard, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong. “We are forecasting a rise in hiring activity and difficulties in securing high-skilled talent in the local market which will force companies to consider candidates from abroad.”
According to the latest Hays Quarterly Report of skills in demand, employers are striving to expand their talent pool in life sciences, a bright spot in both global and regional economies, by targeting those candidates outside Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong remains a dominant regional base for multinational companies to expand their businesses in Asia,” says Dean. “Overseas applicants with regional experience are highly sought after.”
Hong Kong, as an established international financial and economic centre, is home to regional headquarters of big-name pharmaceutical companies where senior executives and key specialists are based.
In terms of skills in demand for the quarter, life sciences employers will focus on recruiting talent who have a strong commitment to the local market.
“Employers will need more professionals to fill their permanent roles,” says Dean. “Qualified talent from overseas who are willing to relocate to Hong Kong are welcomed by employers.”
“Clinical research positions are in high demand due to large pharmaceutical companies outsourcing more projects to clinical research organisations here,” says Dean. This trend is generating a high number of new jobs in Hong Kong and as a result, high demand for new hires.”
Skilled medical affairs professionals are also viewed as a rare asset in the market as major life sciences players need them to act as the bridge between product providers and customers.
“Senior sales and commercial specialists are also highly sought after because of mergers and acquisitions taking place in the healthcare sector,” Dean says. “It’s a dynamic industry and opportunities abound for skilled talent.”
The January to March quarter will see candidates start thinking about their options after receiving their bonuses for the previous year, but Hays predicts that career development and new challenges will still be key factors to influence decision-making.
“Offers always generate interest, particularly in this quarter,” Dean says. “But most candidates appear to be secure in their current employment and they will seriously assess opportunities for career development and new challenges before accepting a new position.”
“Candidates will move to new companies if they feel confident that their skills are sufficient to help them play an important role in new projects,” he says. “On the other hand, employers will do their utmost to retain top talent in a candidate-short market.”