Is Recruitment in the Hong Kong Construction Industry Sustainable?

Posted by Richard Poulter, Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong on Sunday, November 26, 2023

This week I attended the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council’s Global Construction Sustainability Forum and Exhibition. I was fortunate to sit in on the Talent Development Forum where three distinguished speakers from the specialist Human Resources and data analytics arena provided valuable insight into the challenges faced by the construction industry.  In particular these related to the forecasted volume of work planned for the coming years and the critical shortage of manpower faced by the construction industry.

Construction Boom

Hong Kong and China make up a significant proportion of the global construction output forecast to 2030 which is great news for mid-career Civil Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and Construction Project Managers, as well as those just embarking on construction careers in Hong Kong. However, there are some critical challenges ahead in order to deliver on the projected work volume.

The Challenges

Construction spending in Hong Kong is set to increase to a whopping HK$300 Billion per year over the next 10 years. This will create a huge increase in demand for construction manpower. To exacerbate the situation, Hong Kong has an ageing workforce, with an average age for a skilled construction worker of 55, and also a lack of interest in construction careers by the younger generation.

The Younger Generation

Some interesting readily available statistics from LinkedIn show that of the 58,000 real estate and construction professionals registered in Hong Kong, there are 10,000 currently open to new opportunities and the average time spent with an employer prior to changing jobs is 1.7 years. 

The younger generation appear currently to be more interested in jobs in technology, media and telecoms, life sciences and of course financial services, with only around 28% interested to work in construction industry sectors.

Attracting Talents

It was emphasised that in order to attract young talent to consider construction careers,  construction industry employers must focus on new strategies relating to:

  • Competitive Compensation and benefits
  • Shifting Employer’s expectations
  • Upskilling & Reskilling
  • Building Employer brands

From an employer’s point of view, whilst a pay rise appears to be the most important factor within their immediate control, upskilling and reskilling existing staff is also critical along with strengthening staff engagement and employee wellness as well as enhancing the employer’s brand.  

Shifting to a focus on employees’ expectations, ranked highest was work-life balance, followed by work recognition, then job stability and finally career progression.  This order of importance has significant implications for employer strategy and initiatives.

Where to focus – digital skills

It’s clear that technology has revolutionised the way in which employers can attract and engage talent, for example, using applicant tracking systems and video interviewing platforms; when deployed new technology is a great means to attract the younger generation. Virtual and augmented reality in design, BIM and MiC (modular integrated construction) for off-site production are all exciting areas offering great careers for tech savvy young professionals.

Employers should be highlighting that digital skills are increasingly in demand in the construction industry. They should promote the new science which is involved e.g., green building materials, energy efficient construction. They should also develop less traditional corporate structures to encourage equal opportunities and fast-track career progression where deserved and appropriate.

Understanding your audience

The full survey results below provide a snapshot of understanding the importance placed by Gen-Z on various employers’ value propositions: 

Evolving your employer brand

The battle for talent has never been so strong. As an employer, you should create a clear and compelling employer brand story. This should showcase your mission, vision, values, culture, and employee experience.

You should also use authentic and engaging content, such as stories and podcasts, testimonials and blogs, to highlight your achievements, impact, and benefits.

Talk to a specialist construction recruiter

Employers are refocusing and modernising their recruitment, retention and employer value proposition strategies to attract and retain talent to retain and grow their market share and to ensure the construction industry has a bright and sustainable future. The team at Maxim Recruitment in Hong Kong, Australia, UK and in Canada all have extensive experience in identifying and selling your company’s value proposition to prospective employees.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how Maxim can help your construction business sustain and grow your attractiveness to facilitate the recruitment of the very best construction industry candidates.

Richard Poulter
Richard Poulter
Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong
Maxim Recruitment

Richard has successfully recruited for the construction industry for the past 13 years following 15 years as a civil engineer and construction project manager. He is based in Hong Kong and responsible for Maxim Recruitment operations in Hong Kong, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.