Working life becomes busier

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 14 May 2021

Local economic activities appear to have become more robust since the start of the year judging by rosier-than-expected first-quarter growth figures.

And as recruitment is enlivened, Fanny Chan, head of Sing Tao job classified ads supplement JobMarket, told me the game of musical chairs has begun again on the employment front.

While second-quarter figures have yet to return to peak levels, she says, the market has clearly become more active.

Most notable is the revival in the catering sector, with popular chains like TamJai Yunnan Mixian and Sushi Express continue to hire.

Rather unexpectedly, airport operators are also recruiting. The cargo terminal is a major employer because of sustained demand for inbound freight service, importing goods to satisfy local needs.

Meanwhile, reactivation of the mainland supply chain has spurred outbound transportation demand, both via sea and air. Recovery is particularly rapid in air freight, one of Hong Kong's strongest sectors before the downturn.

When the job market is in the doldrums, employees have to be flexible and take whatever jobs are available. Now, as the market improves, they are well-positioned to look for greener pastures, so to speak.

For a time, many university graduates liked to travel before taking up employment. But seeing how the job market can suddenly dry up has prompted them to become keener in seeking jobs immediately.

The period of strictest social distancing rules halted many service industry operations, forcing workers to take up jobs in other sectors like housing estate management.

Now that the service sector is reopening, some of these employees are choosing to return to their former positions, which is another reason for the musical chairs.

Passenger aviation is still locked in an ice age, with airline companies offering "skinny chicken" - very unattractive - exit packages for their employees.

But employees like flight attendants are highly sought after by employers in other service industries as they are well trained and generally young.

But an airline industry source warns of a big challenge down the line for airlines when they need to put their workforces back together as things return to normal.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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