The Availability of Construction Jobs for the Hong Kongers in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has the highest percentage of public transport usage in the world. It also has the ‘highest’ number of skyscrapers in the world. With its complex and sophisticated transport systems and continuing urban development, it should stand to reason that Hong Kong's construction sectors are the best in the world. But what is the job availability and employee availability actually like?

The South China Post reported in Dec 2021:

Marked recovery seen in construction sector, with the unemployment rate down 0.8 percentage points to 5.6 per cent”

A sub-headline from the Hong Kong Free Press in March 2022, stated:

“Hong Kong’s unemployment rate increased to 4.5 per cent between last December and February, affecting those in construction, retail, hospitality, the arts, entertainment and recreation the worst.”

Contradictions in the Construction Sectors

Construction jobs in Hong Kong seem to be in a state of flux. But even as far back as 2018 the Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) informs us that:  

“Based on survey results, we estimated that the city has between 8,000-15,000 unfilled vacancies over a long period of time.”

They state that recruiting locally is a priority. But further on, they report a shortage of construction workers in Hong Kong, this means that foreign labour is considered and certainly not out of the question, although the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS), designed to bring in foreign labour is rigid and highly bureaucratic and not entirely successful. With unfilled job vacancies this rigidity is surprising, as construction sectors in Hong Kong need, “an annual turnover of HK$250 billion…to keep the construction industry sustainable and the city’s development competitive.”

So although the construction sectors in Honk Kong again suffered due to a fifth wave of Covid-19 and further restrictions this year, construction industry sectors in Hong Kong have been unsteady and fluctuating for some time. There are roughly 480,000 registered construction workers but only steady employment for about 400,000 of them at any given time. What does this mean to a construction job market that seems to have construction workers not working, yet there are construction industry jobs for the taking?

The Construction Jobs in Hong Kong Dilemma

The quandary stated in the last section is evidence taken over a long period of time and obviously it’s not the same 80,000 Hong Kong construction workers not working all of the time. Depending on what construction projects are happening depends on what skills are required. But with an aging population and a shortage of young people training for construction work (even with incentive schemes), vacancies are on the rise. Those that are training for construction jobs often end up eventually working in a different sector. The lack of regular work, long hours and exposure to the elements seem to be less appealing to the young generation in modern day Hong Kong than it used to be. According APAC Outlook magazine 

“All employers in the sector are currently seeking property and construction professionals.”

The jobs are there, but the talent is lacking. APAC also say that “China’s economy has been growing for 35 years…the growth is especially prevalent in the construction, real estate and property industries.” It seems Hong Kong’s construction sectors are growing but the workforce isn’t growing with it.

Prioritising Hong Kong Construction Sectors

If the construction sectors are a vital ingredient to the economy as a whole, then surely new ways need to be made available to encourage not just local employees, but those from abroad as well. Workers have always travelled to where the work is if you’ll make the jobs available. To have so many vacancies and not make it easier to fill them is surely counter-productive to a strong economy.

The Maxim construction recruitment agency has many vacancies in Hong Kong. Talk to one of the Maxim recruitment team to discuss the many opportunities available in Hong Kong today.    

Kelvin Brown
Maxim Recruitment Intern