Fewer jobs for Hongkongers in Macau as city hires more locals, mainlanders

Number falls almost two-thirds in five years as Macau hires more locals and mainlanders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2012, 3:56am

The number of Hongkongers working in Macau is plummeting as casino operators and construction firms recruit more local and mainland workers.

Figures from Macau's Human Resources Office show their number has fallen by nearly two-thirds over five years. In July, 5,350 Hongkongers were working in the city, a sharp drop from the nearly 16,000 in July 2007.

While "gaming and other service industries" and "construction" remain the top two sectors for Hongkongers, the number has slumped from about 8,500 to 1,800 for the former and from about 5,700 to 1,300 for the latter.

Dr Rico Lam Long-wai, head of the University of Macau's management and marketing department, said that as the Macau government was encouraging casinos to employ locals, Hong Kong employees were not getting their contracts renewed. The 2008 financial meltdown led to the suspension of many construction projects in Macau, he added, which affected job opportunities for construction workers and engineers who, back in 2007, were in hot demand with the Cotai Strip development.

Hui Wing-mui, a senior human resources manager in her 30s who works for a prominent gaming and hotel group, has been working in Macau for five years and earns about 50,000 patacas a month.

"If you are still young and do not have a lot of attachments, it's worth a try [to work in Macau] … as there is insufficient manpower in Macau, there are a lot of opportunities around." She said it was not difficult for Hongkongers to find jobs there, but the Human Resources Office might not approve job permit applications.

According to Macau's labour law, non-locals have to be hired by a registered company there before the office reviews applications on an individual basis.

Edward Leung Ho-sum, 35, a project manager in a construction firm, has worked in Macau for seven years and makes more than 70,000 patacas a month.

He said it was harder for Hongkongers to find work in Macau's construction industry as those working in the hotels or casinos tended to be given priority in employment. The majority of non-local construction workers in the city were from the mainland, he added.