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Dealing with Hong Kong's Tech Talent Shortfall

7 months ago by ConnectedGroup
Bonnie   Article

​The below article is written by Bonnie Chan, Head of Technology and Contracting & Payroll Services.

It was originally published on LinkedIn, 8th December 2021.

Prior to the pandemic, Hong Kong already suffered from a narrow talent pool in the technology sector, particularly related to software. This problem has grown in severity due to a number of factors;  

  • An outflow of expatriate talent, particularly in early 2020 – post-protests and with early news of the pandemic in China 

  • An outflow of local talent over the last 12 months with total numbers quoted at 90,000 people and likely more to come 

  • Fewer foreign specialists arriving, mainly due to pandemic related travel restrictions 

  • Increasing demand with the growth in the technology sector 

  • Historically limited investment from organisations in developing entry-level technology talent 

  • Higher risk-aversity from the candidate market due to global economic uncertainty 

This impact of this is starting to bite. With a smaller talent pool and a smaller proportion of that pool being actively open to opportunities, the bidding war has begun. Salaries are being pushed up and organisations are struggling to meet their hiring goals – both to maintain current resources and to meet future growth targets. 

Based on our insights, the most demand IT skills in Hong Kong are: 

1) Fintech Professionals 

  • There are over 600 fintech companies operating in Hong Kong in a wide variety of emerging areas, from blockchain and payments to InsureTech and RegTech. 

  • Lack of professionals with experience in application development, including distributed ledger technologies, artificial intelligence, big data and cyber security. 

2) Data Scientists  

  • Crucial to smart city development and digitalisation in today's market. 

  • Companies require Data Scientists to make critical business and marketing decisions from huge datasets. 

  • Experienced Data Scientists are hard to find in Hong Kong. Talent with experience in the following are in high demand; 

  • Working with Big Data 

  • Using machine learning and statistical methods 

  • Data mining, optimisation techniques and artificial intelligence to meet client business needs 

  • Developing and implementing statistical tools to build predictive models to support business strategy, operations, and development plans 

3) Cyber Security 

  • With the demand of 'Internet of Things' devices and 5G enabled applications, network security experts will be in high and increasing demand over the coming years 

  • Demand driven by the need to bolster enterprise defenses against cyber-attacks on their on-line platforms, underlying legacy and big data systems. 

  • Most companies urgently need Cyber Security Specialists with expertise in; 

  • Security solution design, architecture and maintenance 

  • Policy, compliance and standards 

  • Security risk analysis, assessment and audit, and mitigation measure development 

4) Cloud 

  • Demand for cloud professionals has soared, driven by the disruptive shift from in-house servers and computing power to the flexibility and scalability of cloud-based systems 

  • The pandemic driven migration toward WFH created even more demand for cloud services 

  • With many large organisations only making the transition in the last few years, the pool of talent with cloud migration and management experience at this scale is limited 

Our advice for employers: 

  • Despite recent political unrest and the pandemic, Hong Kong is still an attractive location for professionals. Employers in Hong Kong should look to overseas talent to work in Hong Kong to fill the void – the faster they shift strategy in this respect, the bigger advantage will be gained. It is currently easier to secure rental property and places in schools. 

  • Challenge whether roles need Chinese language skills or whether this is simply an embedded assumption. The more flexibility on language, the wider the talent pool that becomes available. 

  • Look into upskilling current employees now to prepare for the future. The best time to develop your own talent is now – build a sustainable and trusted source of talent internally to ensure future market shocks are easier to ride out. 

  • Listen to what your teams are telling you about where improvements can be made to your culture and employment benefits. Retaining your current staff should be your number 1 priority. 

  • If you want to hire local talent, budget accordingly. We expect salary increment demands for candidates to change roles in 2022 to look like this: 

Junior (1-3 years' experience) - 20-30% 

Mid (4-10 years' experience) - 12-18% 

Senior (11+ years' experience) - 8-12% 

To gain more detailed insights or to discuss permanent or contract talent solutions, please contact Bonnie Chan at