HK Employers May Be Guilty of Double Standards

Hong Kong employers are under pressure when it comes to implementing new technologies. The reason: they feel their employees do not have the necessary skills. Yet, when compared to their regional and global peers, they are also focusing less on training.

The conclusions come from recent research by Robert Half. It highlighted the challenges that Hong Kong business leaders face in driving new tech adoption.

In Hong Kong, 90% of employers see challenges in upskilling their staff for adapting to new technologies. The APAC average was 88%, and the global one was 78%.

“Hong Kong has ambitions to become a global innovation and technology hub, however adopting new technologies on an organizational and workforce level is imperative to driving digital transformation across the city-state. While technology is the driver behind the business transformation, it is human capital that will determine its success, highlighting the need for Hong Kong business leaders to prioritize change management, upskilling and reskilling their existing workforce, and recruiting the right talent to adapt to new technology," said Elaine Lam, associate director of Robert Half Hong Kong.

Lam observed that Hong Kong employers need to address upskilling challenges -- especially as the workplace becomes more tech-centric.

“Globally, the workplace dynamic is shifting towards a more technology-enabled future. In order to stay competitive, companies are under increasing pressure to source, recruit, and nurture talent that can quickly adapt to new technology and drive organizational change in the face of new opportunities. To survive into the future, employees must be agile and responsive to new technologies for businesses to be capable of taking full advantage of its benefits.”

While Hong Kong employers face upskilling challenges, they are also less proactive in driving professional development.

Only three in five (61%) Hong Kong companies have increased their staff training budgets over the last two years. This lower than the 65% APAC average and 64% global one.

When asked what kinds of training options they prefer, Hong Kong employers prefer seminars and courses. In fact, 48% said that they use in-person training through these initiatives to upskill their employees.

Meanwhile, 38% selected working with a mentor, while 36% saw value in online courses. Only 28% saw knowledge transfer from interim contractors or subject matter experts as a valid option.

Looking outside to fill the inhouse skills gap is no help either. Close to eight in ten (77%) Hong Kong employers felt it was challenging to source professionals skilled in the new technologies their companies will be implementing. It is above the global average of 71%.

One solution lies in the adoption of a flexible staffing model. The study noted that 72% endorse such a model that utilizes experienced interim/contract professionals to transfer knowledge and upskill through their existing teams, compared to 69% of their global peers.

“Flexible staffing allows Hong Kong companies to quickly onboard the most suitable contracting talent to manage critical projects and share their skills with existing teams. In tandem with a robust professional development program, this can support company goals to build the skilled workforce needed to maximize the opportunities offered by evolving technologies,” said Lam.