Hong Kong-based employees are becoming increasingly proactive about seeking new job opportunities – 49% of employees are currently looking for a new job in May 2020, which marks a 17% increase in the number of active job seekers compared to December 2019, according to the COVID-19 Workforce Sentiment Survey conducted by Randstad Hong Kong.
Of those actively seeking new jobs, 41 per cent ranked unsatisfactory salary as the top reason for wanting to make the change, while 33 per cent cited a desire to change their career or the industry they are currently in. Over 8 in 10 Hong Kong employees have shown concern about their job security this year. Additionally, 50% of employees report that their employers have implemented cost-cutting measures, including salary freezes, reductions, and unpaid leave.
According to the Hong Kong government, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) has received a staggering total of 133,000 applications in the first 3 days since the application period opened on 25 May. The scheme offers time-limited support to employers to retain employees in light of the economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city has been racked by months of violent political protests that began in March 2019. It suffered a further blow from January 2020 onwards, as the coronavirus pandemic placed additional pressures across tourism, F&B, hospitality and retail sectors. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate has risen steadily for the last 7 months, reaching 5.2% between February and April 2020.
“The employment status for many Hongkongers has changed as a result of months-long protests and COVID-19. A global event like the pandemic will also motivate some people to rethink their career choices,” Randstad’s report states. “Some may want to join an industry that is seen to be recession-proof for better job security or to find a new purpose through their career. We can expect to see more movements in the job market once the economy picks up.”
S&P Global Ratings’s latest report predicted that job losses across the Asia-Pacific could double due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Unemployment rates across Asia-Pacific could rise by well over 3 percentage points, twice as large as the average recession, as social distancing measures hit the engine of job creation: the service sector,” S&P’s Asia Pacific Chief Economist Shaun Roache said.