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Mainlanders lead expat hires by local companies
Nick Walker
update on Saturday, December 10, 2011
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Hong Kong endures as an East-meets-West melting pot, but the mix is increasingly more Asian - specifically, mainland Chinese - according to a recent ManpowerGroup survey.

Addressing the issue of labour migration in an increasingly borderless world, the survey quizzed some 25,000 employers in 39 markets.

Concerning Hong Kong, a key finding that emerged was the strong dominance of mainland-sourced talent among expatriate hires.

Candidates from across the border now represent 57 per cent of hires in the manufacturing sector and 35 per cent in the finance, insurance and real estate industries. Overall, they now account for 33 per cent of non-resident recruitment.

The report also showed that, despite the bearish market sentiment, there remains a notably high demand for senior talent, with several industries reporting significant shortages of suitable candidates.

"The candidate profile that companies are looking for tends to be one with Asia experience, such as from [China], with a skill set that is relevant to a very specific area," says Ian Strutton, director of ManpowerGroup's Experis Hong Kong team.

"These candidates usually have extensive mainland business knowledge and experience. Most obviously, they have language skills that are in demand," he adds.

As an example, Strutton cites the particularly high demand for risk assessment specialists, the bulk of whom are now being recruited from across the border.

Among other talent sources for Hong Kong-based organisations, Japan now finds itself in second place at 20 per cent, flowed closely by the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.

While recruiting from overseas continues to be a viable means of addressing shortages, the survey also indicated a need for employers to be mindful of their ability to retain staff in Hong Kong.

Relative to their counterparts elsewhere in the world, however, Hong Kong's employers remain fairly sanguine about the situation, with 77 per cent saying that they are not worried about talent leaving the city to work abroad.

According to Strutton, this lack of concern over a potential brain drain may be well-placed - for now, at least. "Companies need not be too worried, given that Hong Kong candidates are not overly interested in being posted overseas," he says, adding that "some companies actually struggle to encourage people to head an office somewhere else."

Simply put, Hongkongers prefer to stay in Hong Kong. In fact, the number of the city's residents choosing to work on the mainland is currently on the decline, notes Strutton, a fact that's sure to provide relief to managers looking to boost their ability to keep staff at home in Hong Kong. 

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