Learning & Development Asia 2024
2021 rankings: Which employers are most attractive in Hong Kong?

2021 rankings: Which employers are most attractive in Hong Kong?



The HKSAR government remains the most attractive employer among engineering/natural sciences students for the seventh consecutive year.

Two tech giants, Google and Apple, have sustained their leading position as an ideal employer for Hong Kong's students across business/commerce, engineering/natural sciences, and IT disciplines, as revealed by the Universum's 2021 Top 100 Ideal Employer Rankings – Hong Kong Edition.

The HKSAR government has, once again, been ranked by engineering/natural sciences students as the number one employer of choice. 

EY, Pfizer and Sun Hung Kai Properties have made a big leap in this year's rankings by virtue of provding a “good reference for future career” and “professional training and development”.

EY saw the biggest improvement by jumping up to 17th place (up 63 places) and 7th place (up 10 places) in ratings by IT students and business/commerce disciplines respectively, as it is seen as an organisation that provides “clear path for advancement”.

Pharmaceutical companies ranked high for engineering/natural sciences students, resulting in a huge jump in the position of Pfizer to seventh (up 43 places). The strong desire to work for pharmaceutical giants during COVID-19 could be attributed to their business growth and high visibility in the media.

universum 2021 hk ranking

How preferences have changed

“High future earnings” has surpassed “a friendly working environment” as Hong Kong students’ top preference in 2021. Students also place greater importance on “secure employment” which rose three places on the list to the sixth from the ninth rank compared to the past two years.

There was a notable drop in the preference for work-life balance that shifted down to seventh position this year from the second place in 2020. The unsettling uncertainty brought by the pandemic could be seen as the main driver of this change.

The survey also showed nearly 70% of students are interested in exploring remote work opportunities, however 44% are concerned that they would be isolated and miss out on social connections with their coworkers.

Mike Parsons, Managing Director APAC for Universum, said, "Cultural aspects such as a friendly work environment remain key but talent has, understandably, deprioritised them in the wake of a shift towards more remote working.

"In order to win the war for young talent, employers need to have a clear understanding of who they are competing with and what matters to their target talent, identify their differentiators and devise the right strategy for employer branding.”

The survey also reveals that T&D opportunities, C&B as well as advancement opportunities are the three most important topics that employers should focus on to engage university students on social media. Google and Apple made it to the lists of the top five most engaging employers on social media for students across business/commerce, engineering/natural sciences, and IT disciplines.

Salary expectation and gender pay disparity

The average annual salary expected by Hong Kong university students is HKD254,375. Business and commerce students have the highest expectation on salary with an average annual remuneration of HKD247,523 (+1% vs 2020).

Their counterparts from the IT discipline and engineering/natural sciences have significantly lowered their expectations to HKD225,407 (-18% vs 2020) and HKD246,060 (-11% vs 2020) respectively.

Gender pay gaps within business/commerce, and IT disciplines have widened to 19% (from 15% in 2020) and 11% (from 7% in 2020) respectively. Engineering/natural sciences is the only discipline that saw a decrease in the gender pay gap (8% in 2021 from 14% in 2020), attributed to a 10% decrease in the annual expected salary from HKD300,000 to HKD270,000 among males studying engineering/natural sciences.

About the study

Universum’s Hong Kong edition of its global talent survey interviewed 6,270 students studying for degrees in business/commerce, engineering/natural sciences, IT, humanities/liberal arts/education, law and health/medicine via online questionnaire from November 2020 to May 2021, with 19,311 individual evaluations of 125 employers.

Photo / 123RF

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