HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Firms tap into temporary and contract market to plug talent shortage

Almost all or 91% of companies have employed temporary or contract staff over the past year.

With the local economy growing and business activity increasing, Hong Kong’s employers are looking to the temporary and contracting market to make up for shortfalls in skillsets found in the permanent recruitment market, according to recruitment firm Hays’ Asia Salary Guide 2019.

The report, which tracks salary and recruiting trends based on responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, found that companies in Hong Kong are utilising the burgeoning temporary recruitment sector in ever-greater numbers, with 91% citing how they have employed temporary or contract staff over the past year. “This is up from just 83% in 2018,” Dean Stallard, managing director of Hays Greater Bay Area, said in a statement.

“There are a number of reasons that employers are turning to temporary staff, and this is a clear signal that companies increasingly understand the benefits that this form of hire can bring,” he added.

Also read: 2 in 5 professionals expect to change employers in the year: report

The report showed that 71% of companies in Hong Kong witnessed greater business activity over the past 12 months, far exceeding expectations, with 70% betting on more activity in the coming year.

In order to cope with this bullish demand, companies have been observed to hire more permanent staff, with 52% reporting headcount increases over the last 12 months. In 2019, 51% of employers forecast further augmentation, amidst the demand for talent continuing to outstrip supply.

“Despite this upsurge in hiring, 33% of employers have seen overtime increase over the past year, up from just 28% in 2018, signifying that companies are unable to access the talent that they require to fulfil objectives,” Dean noted. “These gaps are being filled by an increasing reliance on temporary staff, and the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide reveals that yet more companies foresee that they will be using temporary talent in the coming year.”

Only 11% of Hong Kong employers said they feel that skills shortages will not hamper the effective operation of businesses in 2019, and as productivity was the area most affected over the last 12 months, companies predicting increased business activity are advised to keep their recruitment options open.

Also read: Only 2% of senior executives have a concrete plan to address skill shortages: survey

Hays’ research showed that when it comes to tactics taken to address immediate skills shortages, the recruitment of temporary workers has doubled in the past two years, leading to substantial opportunities for candidates operating in the temporary sector.”

“As well as the number of opportunities available to candidates, there are great benefits for those operating in the temporary or contract sector,” Dean highlighted, adding that temporary work allows candidates to operate in an industry or sector in which they may not have previously worked, affording them an opportunity to gain skills in a new area while developing CVs. In addition, temporary recruitment often has a speedier hiring process and financial packages may be weightier.

“Furthermore, as the report notes, the majority of employers are seeking hard skills to meet their operational requirements, particularly in project management, statistical analysis and data mining, and computer skills, meaning that candidates can upskill in these areas to further improve, and safeguard, their future prospects.”

The utilisation of temporary workforce is said to have advantages for firms too, given that new temporary recruits need only meet the immediate demands of areas that are particularly difficult to fill. In addition, companies are able to contain recruitment costs, enabling organisations to source specialist expertise for specific projects.” 

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