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Weathering the storm: Business CIOs are safest

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 11, 2009
What will be the information technology employment landscape for 2009? What are the best strategies for survival? A range of pundits share their views about IT recruitment, salary and employment prospects for the year ahead.

Regardless of industry, thorough companies will look to reducing the number of permanent head count on their books and instead, bringing in contract professionals or outsourced solutions, he says.

Kenneth Hung, managing consultant, IT&T, Hudson Hong Kong, says that, unfortunately for Hong Kong, IT has been one of the worst-hit areas as companies look to reduce costs and people. Hung says if there were 100 solid jobs last year, there are probably around 50 solid jobs this year.

There will be a tougher interviewing process to ensure the right person is recruited, but there are still solid and good jobs here for the right candidates, he says.

Some companies are looking to get more out of IT in an economic downturn in order to create more efficiencies and productivity from the organisation. Therefore they expect more from IT and more from IT employees. Hudsons general manager, China, Raymond Wong, says the financial crisis has forced many IT multinationals to shut down or reduce their number of employees in China.

Cost control

According to the strategy adjustment and cost control plans from headquarters in US or Europe, many IT companies in China now are reducing their employees, freezing new headcount and salaries, Wong says. Employees who would look for other opportunities have now decided to hold on to their current jobs due to the uncertainties in the market.

To cope with the current global financial meltdown, companies in China are cutting daily expenses such as laying off employees, re-organising the business structure and reviewing their investment plans.

Wong says the Chinese government has rolled out its largest financial stimulus package with US$586 billion to spur domestic demand and boost the slowing economy.

How this amount will really boost the domestic economy is really something that Chinese companies are waiting to see.

A Hong Kong government spokesperson tells MIS Asia that the IT sector is a vital contributor to the economy.

Impressive growth

In 2007, Hong Kongs total expenditure on in-house research and development (R&D) activities in IT amounted to US$335 million. This represented an impressive growth of 26 per cent over 2006 and 49 per cent over 2003.

One estimate, by the Vocational Training Council in 2006, put the total number of employees engaging in the principal lines of IT occupations at nearly 65,000, representing 1.4 per cent of total employment in the HK economy.  

Clearly,  the  year  ahead  will  be  a  challenging  one  for  our business community,  including not least IT operators, the spokesperson says. In anticipation of the possible slowdown in overall economic activity, Hong Kong companies can be expected to be more stringent in containing their staff size and other expenses.


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