More than 2,000 new information technology jobs are expected to be created in Hong Kong by early next year, with almost half in application programming and one-quarter in hardware and software support. According to the Vocational Training Council's IT manpower survey, the number of local IT posts will increase 4.9 per cent to 51,096 next month from 48,710 (including 3,863 vacancies) in the same period this year. The forecast had not fully taken into account the impact of the recession as the study was done in January this year, said Yeung Kwok-keung, chairman of VTC's IT training committee. The highest expected growth of 10.6 per cent for application programmers might be due to the demand for year-2000 talents, such as software code conversion and testing, said Mr Yeung, who is also the deputy managing director of Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal. 'But the boost is expected to discontinue as most of the job to tackle the millennium bug will be completed soon.' There were 44,847 IT employees in Hong Kong in January this year, up 17.8 per cent from two years ago when the last survey was done. Finance, insurance, real estate and business services together are the largest local IT employers, despite a fall of 8.6 per cent in IT employees in the sectors from two years ago. Software vendors are requiring more IT personnel, up 136 per cent from two years ago. Transport, storage and communication, social and personal services, and government also reported strong growth of more than 30 per cent. The survey also found 8,080 - or 90 per cent - of IT recruits in 1997 were locals, and 80 per cent of the local recruits were experienced labour personnel and 20 per cent were fresh tertiary-school graduates. It was appropriate to maintain a portion of import labour as IT was an international industry, Mr Yeung said. In addition to organising more training courses, especially those related to the Internet, to supply more IT workers, VTC plans to establish an assessment centre with Hong Kong Computer Society and Human Resources Management Association to create standards and examinations to assess the skills of IT employees. While the IT industry continued to grow rapidly, the quality of IT workers had become a concern of employers, said Mr Yeung.