The skills and competencies needed in jobs have changed amid the pandemic, but 50 percent of workers in Hong Kong are struggling to adapt, according to the 2020 2H issue of the Randstad Workmonitor survey. They are also the least confident in the Asia Pacific in their ability to find a job at a different company or industry, with 73 percent of HK respondents saying they have the transferable soft skills needed to do so.
In comparison, 94 percent of workers in Mainland China—the geographically closest group—and 86 percent in Singapore, the economically most comparable group, said they have confidence in their ability to change jobs.
At the same time, however, Hong Kongers are also the least likely in the Asia Pacific region to actively pursue upskilling to future-proof their employability. The Workmonitor survey found that despite being concerned about losing their jobs in the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, 25 percent of HK respondents do not take the initiative to regularly refresh their skills and competencies, compared to 8 percent in Mainland China, and the older they are, the less likely they are to do so.
This may be an issue of expectations: 28 percent believe it is the employer's responsibility—not theirs—to keep them upskilled and updated. Another 51 percent believe the responsibility for keeping their competencies up to date should be shared between employer and employee.
Natellie Sun, Managing Director of Search & Selection, Randstad Greater China, said that the need to update skills arises directly from new solutions brought in by digital transformation, such as automation and e-commerce. “The fundamental knowledge and skills required for these new solutions are different from what the existing workforce is equipped with,” she pointed out. “While businesses favour the benefits that digital transformation brings, some workers may be left behind as their skills are no longer required in the new normal.”
Hong Kong workers might take a little comfort from knowing that although they are lagging behind their neighbours, they are not the only ones challenged. The Randstad Workmonitor found that workers in the Asia Pacific region as a whole are struggling to acquire new skills more than most of the rest of the world: the global average is 40 percent, but in APAC, the number shoots up to 52 percent.