Computer industry little affected by minimum wage

Updated: 2011-07-22 06:31

By Carmen Zhang(HK Edition)

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A survey by the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry (CHKCI) has found the statutory minimum wage, which became law in May, did not change the industry's manpower needs significantly.

Sixty-one percent of employers said they will recruit one to three employees during the year ahead.

More than half of the new jobs will be sales-and-promotion-related.

The survey, conducted in June and July, involved 300 companies.

The CHKCI is a non-profit professional body serving the Information Technology (IT) industry.

The report shows that IT companies remain talent-hungry despite the cost influence of the minimum wage.

"The computer industry has a great demand for people against the backdrop of a vibrant economy and a stable job market, especially the small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs)" said Leung Ding-kau, chairman of the CHKCI, on Thursday.

"However, as a result of the higher labor cost, most companies tend to hire the people with experience and better educational background instead of novices, thus to offset the cost spent on training and orientation," he noted.

The hiring expectations of the IT employers, according to the survey, added up to more than 3,000 job vacancies likely to be created in the industry over the next year.

The rosy number echoes the latest jobless figures released by the Census and Statistics Department on Tuesday.

In the three months ending June, the city's unemployment rate remained low at 3.5 percent, with a record high employment total.

Things will be toughest for workers aged below 24, with 53 percent of companies saying they will raise the bar for the job seekers.

Employers are highlighting the attitudes towards work and positive personal qualities, said the survey.

"The result implies the competition for job seekers who lack degrees or experience will be even fiercer under the pressure of the minimum wage law," said Steven Chan, vice-chairman of the CHKCI.

He said he was concerned that the jobless rate for newly graduated students may increase as the bar is raised.

"It's hard to retain talent if you can't offer an attractive payment. Since we pay more to employees, for sure we hope to find people who are more qualified," said an electronics shop owner at Wan Chai.

The organization expressed the hope for the government to give more assistance to both the SMEs bearing the burdens imposed by the minimum wage and the youngsters with difficulties in job hunting.

The survey through questionnaires was undertaken from June to mid-July.

There were 100 valid returns from employers, ranging from large-scale companies to small start-ups.

Most respondents were SMEs with fewer than 20 employees.

China Daily

(HK Edition 07/22/2011 page1)