Hong Kong Employers Expect Staffing Levels to Increase in Q1 2017

January 20, 20178:05 am471 views

Hong Kong employers expect staffing levels to increase during the first three months of 2017 at a steady pace, according to the 2017 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS).

After removing seasonal variations from the survey data, Hong Kong’s Net Employment Outlook stands at +13%. Hiring intentions remain relatively stable when compared with the previous quarter but decline by 2 percentage points year-over-year. 17 percent of the 728 employers surveyed forecast an increase in staffing levels in the first quarter of 2017, while 4 percent predict a decrease.

79 percent of overall employers surveyed expect no employment changes in Q1 2017. Employers expect to grow staffing levels in all six industry sectors during Q1 2017.

The strongest hiring prospects are reported in the services sector, with a Net Employment Outlook of +20%. Elsewhere, employers anticipate steady payroll gains in the mining and construction sector and the finance, insurance and real estate sector, with outlook of +16% and +15%, respectively. When compared with Q1 2016, hiring prospects decline in four of the six industry sectors.

The most notable decrease of 7 percentage points is reported by mining and construction sector employers while the outlook for the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector is 5 percentage points weaker.

An upbeat hiring pace is anticipated in Q1 2017 with services employers reporting a Net Employment Outlook of +20%. Hiring prospects improve by 2 percentage points when compared with the previous quarter but decline by 3 percentage points year-over-year.

“Strong demand for technology talent continues to accelerate hiring intentions in the service sector,” said Lancy Chui, Senior Vice President at ManpowerGroup Greater China region.

“Nowadays, different industries are moving towards digitization, along with an increasing number of cyber attacks. Cyber attacks not only threaten financial institutions and banking systems but also different enterprises, which stimulate employers’ hiring intention on cyber security roles to minimize the chance of being attacked and the leakage of sensitive data.”

“Likewise, the talent demand in data analysis, cloud computing, apps development brings a knock-on effect on hiring activities within the service sector. Apart from technology, employers are also seeking professional services talent for auditing, risk and compliance to meet regulatory requirements and to minimize risks, especially in a sluggish business environment,” she said.

“The hotel industry is affected by the unfavourable performance of inbound tourism, thus employers have put the focus on promotion to attract customers,” Ms Chui added.

See: Hong Kong Companies Plan to Hire Savvy Digital Customer Experience Managers in Q1 2017

Furthermore, the uncertain global market conditions have tightened overall hiring activities across the hotel industry.

Employers in the Mining and Construction sector forecast a hopeful hiring climate in the first quarter of 2017, reporting a Net Employment Outlook of +16%. However, hiring plans are 3 percentage points weaker quarter-over-quarter and decline by 7 percentage points year-over-year.

“The recent underemployment rate highlighted an increase in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector. It indicated that uncertain business environment and the postponement of construction projects temper hiring plans in the construction sector. However, employers are still gearing for a hiring spike to fill the skills gap, especially skilled trade positions in construction field. As a result, construction employers adopt a positive hiring approach.” Ms. Chui explained.

With a Net Employment Outlook of +15%, employers in Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector anticipate a steady hiring pace in the January-March time frame. Hiring prospects remain relatively stable when compared to the previous quarter but decline by 5 percentage points year-over-year.

“Global financial headwinds continue to prompt many investment banks and financial institutions to reduce their staffing levels or implement restructuring plans in order to lower cost,” said Ms. Chui.

“A sharp increase in stamp duty rates on property transactions for non-first time buyers is imposed by the Government. This exerts pressure on the sales of secondary property market, resulting in property agencies to suspend the expansion and freeze their hiring plans,” added Chui.

Additionally, Mainlanders are banned from using state-backed bank cards to buy investment-related insurance products in Hong Kong. These developments have heightened uncertainty among insurance employers and we believe have contributed to an overall slowdown of hiring activities in the finance sector.

Hong Kong’s manufacturing sector employers are apparently feeling the effects of a continuing decrease in both outputs and new orders, especially across mainland China. As a result, job seekers can expect some opportunities in the sector through the first three months of 2017, but the overall hiring pace is expected to be modest.

Hong Kong is one of the 43 countries and territories that participate in the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS). In the Asia Pacific region, employers in Taiwan and India report the strongest first-quarter hiring plans, while those in China, Australia and Singapore report the weakest.

Also read: Code of Practice for Employment Agencies in Hong Kong Introduced

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