Figures from Robert Half suggest Hong Kong CIOs are increasingly turning to contract IT workers to help deliver more results while maintaining permanent headcount. The companies are under pressure to remain ahead of the curve amidst a skills shortage and as a result the overall majority (94 per cent) of Hong Kong CIOs are planning to increase their contract IT headcount by an average of 17 per cent over the next 12 months, highlighting the possibilities for IT professionals in today’s market.
The functional areas where contract IT workers are most in demand are software/application development (48 per cent), data/database management (33 per cent) and digitisation (32 per cent).
“While Hong Kong is currently contending with an IT skills shortage, there’s a shift taking place in how Hong Kong organisations staff their IT department,” said Adam Johnston, managing director at Robert Half Hong Kong. “Industry demands and the changing dynamic of the Asian workplace is driving IT leaders to employ a combination of permanent and temporary IT staff to manage both ongoing operational requirements as well as upcoming projects, thereby making temporary workers an inherent part of the workforce.”
Financial incentives are a key motivator for 61 per cent of CIOs who say they will be increasing their temporary headcount over the next 12 months because of cost efficiency, which is closely followed by challenges in sourcing permanent candidates with the required IT skillsets (56 per cent). Increased flexibility without putting pressure on staff headcount is another primary driver for 48 per cent of Hong Kong CIOs, while 41 per cent say the hiring process of contract workers is faster. Interestingly, just 8 per cent refer to a lack of financial resources to hire permanent employees as a key reason, pointing to the appeal of temporary staff beyond purely financial considerations.
“In a market that is rapidly being shaped by a growing lack of skilled IT talent, by hiring contract IT workers across all seniority levels, CIOs will be able to access a much larger talent pool of technology candidates,” added Johnston. “By balancing staff headcount with a dynamic mix of permanent and temporary professionals, Hong Kong’s employers are taking on a big-picture staffing approach that gives them access to the skills they need throughout the year and allows them to remain flexible when it comes to their organisation's needs day in and day out, all year-round.”
“While the use of temporary workers is on the rise in Hong Kong’s IT sector, many local professionals who would thrive in IT contract work are cautious about accepting this type of work because they are used to being employed on a permanent basis. Temporary work however can provide valuable experience to a resume and the ability to expose themselves to multiple new skillsets. And on the other hand, it is also very common for temporary work to evolve into a permanent job. Temporary working assignments are a prime opportunity for professionals to present themselves as the best person for a permanent role, as an employer will already be aware of their strengths first hand, including working style and personality,” he concluded.