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Hong Kong IT pros gloomy about the future

Asia still worth a punt for wannabe-expats

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IT pros in Hong Kong are the least optimistic about their job prospects of all professionals, as Asia’s financial services hub struggles to adapt to continued global economic instability, according to a leading recruiter.

Michael Page International’s latest Employee Intentions Report (PDF) for the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China should sound a note of caution for IT professionals looking to escape the economic uncertainty of their home markets with a move to Asia.

Just nine per cent of tech pros surveyed said they were optimistic about the job market for 2012/13 and only 11 per cent said they were likely to request a pay rise in the coming year – again, the lowest of all sectors.

Christopher Aukland, regional director for Michael Page, told The Reg that continued caution in the banking and financial services sector has had a big impact on confidence.

“It’s taking longer for candidates who have been out of work to get back into roles. Banking and financial services are very tough,” he said.

“People are moving away from technology roles in banks. Two or three years ago it was the reverse but now huge numbers want to transfer to the commercial sector.”

Aukland explained that European and US-headquartered multinationals continue to be cost conscious about hiring in the region, and “IT is not top of the priority list for many”.

What makes it even harder for ex-pats is if they are not available for face-to-face interviews, he added.

“It’s a very fluid and competitive job market and there are quite a large number of highly skilled IT people looking for work, so whenever there’s an opening there are a huge number of applications from here and overseas,” said Aukland.

“As an employer you’d always look for the person based here first of all.”

However, there are reasons for expat IT pros looking for roles in the SAR to be cautiously optimistic, as long as they are at least at IT manager or director level.

He argued that transfers within current employers are the least risky and most likely route to jobs in Hong Kong, and advised that those looking to move from elsewhere in the region ensure they position themselves into an APAC role.

“The key is there’s always roles available for good candidates with strong specialist skills,” he added, explaining that good communicators with C#, .NET or Java skills are still in high demand. ®

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