The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) has urged the government to import labour as its latest survey found that almost three quarters of businesses in Hong Kong were wrestling with talent shortage.
The HKGCC Talent Shortage Survey was conducted in April 2023. A total of 196 HKGCC companies responded to the survey, with 54% of respondents employing more than 200 staff, while 28% employed 50 or fewer staff.
According to the survey 74% of respondents said they were struggling with the ongoing talent crunch in Hong Kong, 61% of whom said they had been facing talent shortages for one to three years. The biggest shortfall in talent was for junior-level management at 59%. Meanwhile, the job level least affected was senior management, with just 1% of respondents reporting a lack of talent.
When asked what were the top three reasons staff resigned, respondents said desire for higher pay (79%), emigration (70%), and desire for a better work-life balance (51%).
To address the loss of talent, most companies interviewed have resorted to offering better remuneration packages (83%). Investing in employee development (58%) came second, demonstrating the importance of re-skilling and up-skilling to keep employees engaged and unleash their potential. Investing in automation to reduce the company’s reliance on manpower (49%) came third, while 21% said they had relocated part or all of their operations out of Hong Kong.
Recruiting talent from the Greater Bay Area (GBA) was deemed as the top short-term measure for alleviating manpower shortages, with 44% of respondents stating a wider and simplified criteria for the talent schemes would attract more non-local talent to Hong Kong. For long-term measures, targeted education and training initiatives would be needed to assist companies to retain, retrain and attract talent (47%).
George Leung, CEO of HKGCC, appreciated the government's efforts to expand its labour importation schemes and include new job types under its list of talents eligible for immigration. He also told local press such as RTHK that the government should consider importing frontline workers from the Greater Bay Area despite unknown challenges ahead. "The gap is so big. The government has to be more proactive to look for some other channels to import large numbers of labour, particularly those in the middle level and also the frontline people," he said.
However, Leung said offering a better remuneration package may not be the best approach to take although it is treated as the most attractive ways for businesses to attract talent. "Eventually, the total labour force is not sufficient to support all the companies. So those who have less financial capability... need to scale down their operations or eventually need to close down. This is not good news to the Hong Kong economy," he explained.
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