Hong Kong Tech Firms

Hong Kong Tech Firms Face Severe Talent Crunch

HONG KONG – Top executives of many tech companies operating in the Chinese territory are complaining that the city lacks sufficient skilled workers, and the ongoing brain drain has exacerbated the situation, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMO) on Tuesday morning (29 November, SGT).

Hong Kong’s harsh COVID-related restrictions have driven away a large number of expatriates and led to an exodus of skilled Hongkongers, in addition to discouraging many foreigners from working here.

“We have been looking for about five system analysts since early this year, but have only managed to hire two so far,” said Kenny Chien Kwok-keung, CEO Cherrypicks.

The mobile app developer is facing a recurring shortage of employees over the past few years, but 2022 has been particularly bad, with the tech firm having to poach talent. The shortage of skilled personnel has also impacted its growth plans, with Cherrypicks turning down many client projects.

Among the most in-demand talent are business analysts, software developers, and blockchain professionals, shared Chien, who warned that if the dearth in tech workers continues it could put off foreign entities from investing in Hong Kong’s tech scene.

Similarly, Phase Scientific revealed that a shortage of skilled talent nearly disrupted the biotech company’s plan to develop COVID-19 test kits during the pandemic. Fortunately, its teams in Shenzhen and the United States worked overtime to create the test kit in 3 weeks.

“We had a hard time hiring the right talent in Hong Kong,” said Ricky Chiu Yin-to, a biomedical scientist who is also the CEO and Chairman of Phase Scientific.

He made the compensation package enticing, but finding people for research and development (R&D) was “like buying a football star”.

Based on government statistics, Hong Kong’s labour force shrank by around 140,000 in the last two years. In addition, some foreign firms have exited, with the number of American companies running regional headquarters in the city falling to 254 last year from 282 in 2020.

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