Market uncertainty and social unrest are making fresh university graduates in Hong Kong anxious about their first jobs. They are also becoming more pragmatic, and are willing to wait if the situation does not meet their needs.
The latest jobsDB “Employment Status of Hong Kong’s Tertiary Students 2018 Survey” noted that 57% of respondents will postpone their job search if the starting salary does not meet expectations (12%) or the current social instability continues (7%).
At the same time, more respondents are expecting a higher salary for their first jobs with 59% wanting over HKD 16,000 for their first salary. This is significantly higher than in 2018's 49%.
While job anxiety soars, the new workforce is placing greater emphasis on flexible working with some not willing to compromise on their working hours. Around 14% of respondents said that they were unwilling to work overtime, and 23% wanted "flexible working hours" in their first job. Working holidays are also losing favor, with only 3% agreeable to such compared to 6% in 2018.
As social unrest and economic slowdown bite, more graduates are seeking job stability. The survey noted that 70% of new graduates are searching for full-time posts after graduation, a slight increase from 63% in 2018.
New graduates continue to favor government jobs, a pattern that jobsDB said existed since it started the survey four years ago. It was twice as popular as jobs from banking (8%) and financial services (7%).
The main reasons continue to be “regular working hours” and “stable salary increment” (both 42%). Interestingly, only 3% of respondents indicated that they are driven by a desire to serve society.
Of the 40% of respondents who said that they will not apply for government jobs, 28% cited the drop in social reputation as the chief reason.
Meanwhile, there is a worrying trend as first-time job seekers search overseas. Thirty percent of new graduates and undergraduates said that they want to work outside Hong Kong for their first job with migration as the biggest motivator (29%). Other reasons included liking the country's culture (23%) and sound economic development (14%).
The survey concluded that the exodus of young talents might "speed up and cause labor shortage in some industries."
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