High-flyers feel the crunch as demand for executives slumps

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 August, 1998, 12:00am

Demand for executives has fallen steeply from last summer, a survey shows.

But recruitment of marketing and information technology (IT) executives has bucked the trend, as companies turn up the sales pressure to help them ride out the slump or pour funds into beating the Year 2000 bug.

El Consulting Hong Kong, which surveys executive employment trends month to month, said demand was falling as the economy faltered.

Demand for executives in all sectors was down nine per cent in June compared with last year.

And although it was up two per cent in June from May, the improvement followed a 26 per cent fall in May.

But vacancies for marketing managers and sales executives were up 31 per cent on last year, and 13 per cent up on May.

Alfred Chown, principal at El Consulting, said most demand for marketing executives was from medical supply companies recruiting for positions in China.

Localisation also had an impact on marketing posts, but had not increased demand overall because expatriates' positions were being made redundant.

The worst hit was the engineering sector, where vacancies were down 42 per cent on June last year, although it was only five per cent down on May.

On the other hand, demand for information technology executives was up 11 per cent on last June. It was five per cent up on May, following a 32 per cent slump a month earlier.

'IT is also expected to make a strong recovery when economic outlook improves,' Mr Chown said. 'A lot of companies are holding back plans to revamp IT while they wait for the economy to bottom out.' General management executive demand, traditionally weak over the summer, was down 10 per cent on the month but two per cent better than last year. Demand for finance executives was eight per cent down on May and 18 per cent down on the year.

'The outlook remains rather bleak . . . but there are signs that some stability is entering the executive job market,' Mr Chown said.

'Along with the rest of Hong Kong's economy, a recovery in the executive job market hinges on reforms in Japan.'