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Government addresses shortage of IT workers in Hong Kong

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Technology is fast changing the workforce and as such Hong Kong is facing a shortage of IT workers. The Hong Kong government has rolled out a pilot scheme to face this shortfall and hire IT experts from outside Hong Kong RTHK reported last week.

The programme aims to attract 1000 professionals in the first year under the technology talent admission scheme. It will run for three years and intends to streamline the administrative recruitment procedures for companies who want to employ IT experts from overseas and the mainland.

In order to qualify for the scheme, people need to hold a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) subjects from a university ranked in the top 100  in international rankings for stem disciplines. Additionally, work experience is not required for people with either a masters or doctorate degree.

However, experience often trumps education when it comes to awarding higher starting salaries for IT workers according to research by recruitment firm Robert Half. Its annual salary guide revealed 71% CIOs are willing to pay a higher starting salary to IT job seekers with previous project experience, followed by more than half 51%)who would do the same for skilled candidates with previous experience in product/service launches. Previous company/industry experience and team lead experience closely follow with respectively 49% and 47%. However, just one-fifth (20%) of CIOs consider education a critical factor when deciding to award their IT staff a higher starting salary.

The top three in-demand IT roles in Hong Kong are a full-stack software developer, application/product support manager and IT security specialist.

“There are certainly merits to both education and experience when weighing up the professional profile of IT job seekers,” says Adam Johnston, managing director of Robert Half Hong Kong.  “However, as the continuously-changing technology industry becomes more customer-centric and concern increases amid persistent cyber-security threats, specific industry knowledge and project-based experience are key factors IT employers are looking for when hiring new talent, with companies willing to increase starting salaries for top IT candidates.”

Speaking to the press, the secretary for innovation and technology, Nicholas Yang, said the scheme is open only for firms located at the Science Park and at Cyperport. Firms can employ up to 100 people a year after going through a four-week application process that will be reviewed by the bureau and the Immigration Department.

In order to join the programme companies will have to prove that the talent they need is not available in Hong Kong, said Yang as a mechanism to protect the local workforce. Furthermore, the scheme requires that companies employ one new local full-time employee plus two local interns in technology-related work for every three non-local persons admitted.

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