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Is Hong Kong Construction Starting to Compete With Higher Salaries on Offer in Macau & China?

In previous years Hong Kong has been forced to recruit expatriates out of the European, American & Middle Eastern markets for candidates in specialist divisions of the construction industry including specialisms such as tunnelling technology, bridge building, structural and façade engineering. However, the skill levels of civil, structural, tunnel, geotechnical disciplines has arguably diminished in recent years due to the influence and growth of the Macau and Mainland China construction markets.

The growth of highly prestigious casino and hotel build projects in Macau & the growing impetus placed on infrastructure in Mainland China has meant that the Hong Kong construction industry has been succumbing to other Asian regions. Why is this the case? Money of course!

In years gone by, Hong Kong used to spend most of its time attracting expatriate quantity surveyors, commercial managers and project engineers.  More recently, Hong Kong has placed greater emphasis on training and employing its own domestic graduates and nationals to occupy these roles. This has created a local construction wages market trend that is less dependent on the world market conditions that dictate the going rate for ‘hired hand’ expatriate staff from elsewhere in the world.

Expat professionals are now finding employment in Macau, on either one of the six major casino & hotel projects going on in Asia’s ‘Las Vegas’, or on the many major building and infrastructure projects in China. The reason for this is simple. Macau and China have a more abundant need for skilled construction professionals and therefore will , at times offer higher salaries to engineers and surveyors, for example. This is therefore reducing the talent pool of local construction professionals available in the market & is increasing the shortage of staff during a massive construction boom in Hong Kong.

 The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, in a recent survey claimed that over 90% of respondents saw a market that showed significant signs of skills shortages; adding to the view that Hong Kong is succumbing to the higher salaries on offer in Macau and China in addition to its own internal skilled labour shortages. 

Moving forward however, the arguably diminished skill level will, in turn, create a more competitive servicing and recruitment market and increase the salaries offered in the Hong Kong construction market. This will undoubtedly be good for the construction professional, both local and expatriate in the long run. 

Maxim Recruitment’s construction  clients in Hong Kong are largely seek candidates who have South East Asian experience; this can be gained in Macau and China and employed back into the Hong Kong market. We are seeing an Asian market that is undergoing exciting ‘boom’ periods and with that we will see a fluctuation in salaries but also a progressive array of interesting and prominent  projects from the advancement of Hong Kong’s MTR network to the creation of ‘The Parisian’ with its 160-metre Eiffel Tower replica. 

Qualified and experienced construction professionals are advised to send their CV to Maxim Recruitment for a specialist conversation about the Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China construction markets.  

Dan Kirk
Hong Kong & Asia Region

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