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Asia skills shortages attract job-hunting IT project managers

Opportunities aplenty if you don't mind long hours

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There was good news today for IT pros keen on a move to Asia, with new data suggesting hiring expectations in the technology sector better than any other and a notable skills shortage emerging in Hong Kong.

It's not all happy days out East, though, as experts also warned of long working hours and risk of employee burn-out for workers in the region.

Those observations come from the latest Employment Trends report from recruitment firm Hudson revealed the jobs market has stabilised in Hong Kong, with Asia Pacific hiring prospects only higher next door in China. Singapore is not too far behind although recruiters there are taking a more cautious tack, it added.

Tony Pownall, general manager of Hudson Hong Kong, labelled it “an employee-driven market, particularly in IT”, with 51.2 per cent of firms planning to increase headcount – the largest of any sector.

“A lot of companies are really focusing on process improvements and efficiencies and merging different systems – basically doing things smarter,” he told The Reg.

Project management skills are therefore highly sought after, especially for the big business intelligence and business process management projects many businesses are looking to commence.

In fact, such demand has led to a spike in hiring expectations for contract work in both Hong Kong and Singapore, as firms look to take on IT staff for limited one or two year periods.

“Especially in Hong Kong there is a shortage of skilled IT candidates because in the previous five or six years not a lot of people have entered the profession,” explained Hudson IT&T consultant Candy Ho.

“If you have a very particular skills set like specialised solutions architect it will be to your advantage. If you have BI or software skills the chances of you getting a role in Hong Kong will also be higher, especially if you have European or US exposure.”

On the downside, Hong Kongers do seem to get the worst deal in Asia when it comes to working hours, with almost half of respondents working more than 51 hours each week thanks to increasingly demanding customers and more project work.

Pownall also softened that blow, claiming that although staff have to come to terms with a ‘work/life blend’ rather than a balance in Hong Kong, the rate of increase in working hours was lower than any other region. Burn-out rates are also among the region's lowest in the Special Administrative Region.

In Singapore, however, a third of employers are reporting an increase in burn out as workloads increase.

Andrew Tomich, executive GM of Hudson Singapore, argued that employers could do more to help by embracing flexible working and providing resources so that staff can better manage stress.

“They need to provide greater clarity around roles and delivery expectations, improve alignment of employee skill sets and job requirements and hire contractors to support employees at risk of burnout,” he added. ®

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