The demand for technology roles has bucked the doom and gloom that afflicted Hong Kong’s economy over the past two years. With the economy improving and companies from financials to logistics providers back hiring in droves, the war for talent has surged manifold that one is starting to see a talent shortage. The shortage has been exacerbated by reduced inflow of foreign talent as the pandemic and the resultant stringent border controls upended migration. The pain is especially felt in emerging parts of IT such as data science/analytics, cloud and cyber security, where the city has only a finite pool of resources. We are also seeing companies opening up roles in areas such as block chain technology. In the first six months of the year, only 299 work visas for the IT sector were approved by the immigration department compared with 652 in all of 2020 and 1,655 a year earlier. Under the Technology Talent Admission Scheme of the immigration department, the numbers are starker. Just 32 applicants were approved in the first six months compared with 116 last year the data shows.
At the same time, Hong Kongers with skills in demand are being lured to other tech hubs, where immigration policies have been relaxed or quarantine rules easier. While 20,000 engineering graduates emerge from Hong Kong universities each year the skill sets are not a great match for the roles in demand. By any measure there are almost 10,000 technology jobs open across various levels, for sustainable growth of the sector, Hong Kong needs to strike a balance between border closure and pandemic management.