More hiring expected this year as markets stabilise after unsteady 2016

Author: Kate Whitehead | Date: 18 Jan 2017

HR specialists will be much sought after, says Robert Walters report

Brexit, the US election and the slowdown in China all added up to create global economic instability last year and many organisations slowed their recruitment or even froze headcount.
 
With much of that uncertainty out of the way, this year is off to a more optimistic start, says Matthew Bennett, managing director of Robert Walters Greater China.
 
“I don’t think this [optimistic start] will have much effect on salaries, but I do think it will create more hiring activity in the market,” said Bennett, at a press conference to launch the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2017.
 
He expects to see growth across most of Asia except China. Hong Kong will likely see GDP growth from 1.4 per cent to two per cent, however China is expected to see a decrease from 6.6 per cent to 5.9 per cent.
 
In Hong Kong, the Fintech sector has grown exponentially over the last few years, but it is hampered by a talent shortage, particularly in mobile development, e-commerce, big data and cyber security. And there is a strong demand for these talents.
 
“People in digital and e-commerce will be highly sought after as the e-commerce market continues to grow, especially in China. Hong Kong is still seen as a reasonable hub so international experience will be highly sought after. And so will specialists in the fintech and cyber security sector,” said Bennett.
 
All organisations in Hong Kong are required to invest in compliance and regulatory staff, which means specialists in this industry are highly sought after, and that shows no sign of changing.
 
“Compliance will remain one of the biggest candidate-short markets in Hong Kong, and jobseekers can demand salary increases as high as 30 per cent,” said Bennett.
 
As employers increasingly focus on HR-related related challenges, Robert Walters expects to see a strong demand for specialists in compensation and benefits, talent acquisition and labour law in order to retain the workforce.
 
“Much of the activity will come from SMEs and local conglomerates as they look to increase the skills of their HR departments. There will be intense completion to find experienced talent management professionals and HR business partners who will be able to help push expansion and growth,” said Bennett.
 
Interestingly, 2016 saw an increased demand for contract roles, and this is expected to continue into 2017. In the banking and financial services industry, which is facing lean budgets and even hiring freezes, contract hiring is expected to take priority over permanent recruitment.
 
Last year saw many professionals sit tight, wary of moving during uncertain times, but as the market becomes more stable and people begin to feel more confident, Bennett expects to see more movement.
 
“I am not that confident there will be a lot of new jobs created in Hong Kong, but if people start switching jobs it increases activity in the recruitment market, so there should be a lot of replacement hiring if that confidence does return,” he said.