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Study: 50% of HK workers believe AI will impact headcount within a year

Study: 50% of HK workers believe AI will impact headcount within a year

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Over 60% of cybersecurity professionals believe their companies are struggling to effectively attract and retain cybersecurity talent, a report finds. Meanwhile, over half of the respondents believe that AI will impact their company headcount within a year.

Conducted by Hays Hong Kong, the report titled “The inside story of technology” delves into technology trends in the city, as well as the challenges and opportunities leaders and professionals encounter in today's dynamic business environment.

Across Asia, the report sees a broad trend of technology professionals looking for a change in 2024. 44% are open to new opportunities while 40% sought a change of organisation while remaining within the same role or industry. 36% desire either a vertical or lateral move within their current organisation, and 35% are content to stay within their current roles.

Notably, salary packages are not the chief reason employees choose to stay or leave an organisation. When it comes to retention, a good work-life balance and flexible work options are proven to be most popular among technology professionals. Meanwhile, employees who leave saw themselves doing so due to a desire to seek new challenges or a lack of career progression. 

According to the report, the most in-demand roles in technology in 2024 are cyber security analysts, cyber threat intelligence analysts, IT auditors, infrastructure specialists, and data scientists.

Balancing the need for cybersecurity

Among respondents in Hong Kong, 50% have expressed they believe that AI will impact their company headcount within a year. In addition, 38% of professionals are “extremely concerned” about AI-powered attacks. 

Despite the emerging threat, 14% of cyber security professionals foresee budgets to be cut by over 21%. Respondents are concerned about the necessary investments in headcount required for security teams to be able to respond efficiently.

Moreover, 61% of cyber security professionals don’t rate their ability to attract cyber security talent highly, while 62% of organisations don’t have a talent development programme.

With businesses needing to stretch their budgets across tech teams, leaders may wish to explore alternative talent solutions to fill this gap. Reskilling candidates with compatible skill adjacencies is a viable solution, with graduate pools and existing employees being a chief source of untapped potential.  

The heartbeat of AI

The report said as companies begin to chart a pathway of development for AI-based products and services, the need for data professionals has grown more prevalent than before. These roles have evolved to encompass how data is being integrated into AI, requiring tech professionals to acquire specialised skills to broaden their toolkits. 

This trend is particularly noticeable in new companies aiming to penetrate the market, according to the report. As they seek to innovate and compete in the digital landscape, they rely heavily on skilled professionals who can create, deploy, and maintain cutting-edge software solutions. This has led to a high demand for data-related specialists and software developers.

While startups are attractive to today’s tech professionals as they often offer flexible work hours, this flexibility comes with increased expectations for employees, particularly in leaner operations where individuals are expected to take on multiple roles, including management responsibilities.

However, professionals who can successfully navigate these demanding conditions are unlikely to return to traditional settings and will continue to excel in their new environment. 

Key actions business leaders may take

To address these challenges imposed by new technologies, the report has suggested business leaders plan for the long-term. As technology continues to break new ground and the need for extensive domain knowledge rises, there will be an imperative to explore alternate talent streams. Recruitment specialists can engage otherwise passive candidates, identify suitable individuals for reactivation, and act as intermediaries to better manage professional expectations of the company.

Meanwhile, business leaders may hire experienced professionals to plug gaps may prove costly and untenable for the tighter budgets teams face today. They may develop their existing workforce employees through internal mobility incentives, training programmes, and career development resources for qualified candidates.

Business leaders should also attract the right talent as a smaller company means presenting an image of stability, especially during a period of stagnant economic growth. A recruitment partner can help project this image, implementing processes to sell their company culture and benefits to prospective candidates.

Suggestions for tech professionals

Existing professionals should update their toolkit to embrace unknown challenges in the future. The report said the urgency of a market where businesses are slowing on hiring necessitates an initiative-taking approach to upskilling and professional development. Professionals should be clear with prerequisites and consider upskilling and certification to fill any gaps within their toolkit.

Moreover, they may consider lateral moves. While the market may seem lean on positions, there will be pockets of industry demanding new talent to fulfil changing needs. They may engage with peers and mentors for insights into emerging roles and specialisms in their industry, and research companies that are hiring for stable options.

Sue Wei, managing director, Hays Greater China, said: "Many tech companies have found themselves needing to scale back, in line with tightening budgets brought about by growing concerns regarding the economic climate. Even so, we are seeing a greater demand not just for data engineers and scientists, but machine learning and AI engineers too. As companies continue to vie for growth amidst the competitive tech landscape, leaders will need to finetune their recruitment strategies to secure a workforce ready to face the challenges ahead.”

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world! 

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