THE RAPID DEVELOPMENT of Macau's infrastructure is creating huge demand for technical expertise which cannot be met simply by relying on the resources of the local market. As a result, an alternative career path is opening up for qualified professionals in Hong Kong, offering them an exciting range of new opportunities. An example of this trend is CGS-Macau Tratamento de Residuos (CGS), which operates a solid waste incineration plant. The company is looking for a senior project structural engineer and a senior project mechanical engineer to manage a multi-year expansion project. It is also planning further recruitment in the near future. Macao Water Supply is looking for a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a civil engineer and a programmer to support expansion, as well as to replace retiring staff. Both companies are advertising for candidates in Hong Kong. 'Macau is now short of technical people because of the development boom,' said Antonio Trindade, chief executive of CESL Asia Group, the parent company of CGS. 'In Hong Kong, the pool of talent is much bigger and the construction industry has a surplus of good engineers. Hong Kong people would clearly be suitable for these positions.' Paul Lam, deputy general manager of Macao Water, expressed a similar opinion. 'We are keen to recruit some professionals from overseas to broaden the knowledge and skills of our staff,' he said. 'Moreover, we are the only water supply company in Macau and some types of professional cannot be found in the local market.' He added that engineering professionals from Hong Kong had an advantage in terms of language skills and their international outlook. In his view, people with the right qualifications would bring something extra to Macau, but would also have an excellent chance to gain exposure and develop personally. While noting the contrasts between the two special administrative regions, Mr Trindade said there was no significant difference in their work environments. 'It's basically the same or similar investors, and the consultants and contractors are mostly from Hong Kong,' he said. CESL has recruited employees from Hong Kong in the past and Mr Trindade expects new recruits to integrate easily. Nevertheless, the way companies are run in the two places may vary. When Roger Lee, a supervisor in Macao Water's operations department, left his job as an assistant engineer in Hong Kong to join the company in 2003, he found that a 'different management system' was one of the main challenges. He said managers in Hong Kong played different roles from those in Macau. 'Compared with my previous jobs in Hong Kong, there are some differences in the management structure in the engineering field. In Hong Kong, the job descriptions are clearer. For example, the project manager acts as a supervisor in charge of the project, and the engineers work on different technical aspects. In Macau, I have the opportunity to play different roles [on the same project] such as the project planner, inspector and controller,' he said. Salaries offered in Macau and Hong Kong are similar, and some employers in the former Portuguese enclave provide basic accommodation and other standard benefits for overseas employees. Mr Trindade said most people who moved to Macau with their families found they enjoyed a better quality of life. While they might have initially planned to commute from Hong Kong, they often realised that it made financial sense for their families to relocate as well. Mr Lam was optimistic about the prospects for engineering in Macau, predicting that demand for talent in the industry would remain high for the next five years. 'There will be huge investment in a succession of infrastructure projects, so different kinds of engineering and technical expert will definitely be needed. Salary increments and new career openings can be expected,' he said. Mr Trindade said growth included the construction of new hotels, casinos and restaurants. The continuing boom in tourism required the development of new infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, a sewage processing plant, power networks and telephone systems. 'This is happening right now and will continue for the next five to 10 years,' he said. Engineering positions would 'keep turning up' at CGS and many other companies. Among projects creating positions is one to build a new incineration plant, expected to be completed in 2008 or 2009. The waste-to-energy plant will replace the existing 12-year-old plant, which now processes all Macau's waste and will soon reach full capacity. CGS has already recruited staff from Hong Kong for this project and will be on the lookout for more. BETTING ON A CERTAINTY Macau's rapid growth has led to a boom in infrastructure development, creating high demand for technical experts and engineering professionals with management experience. Projects include the construction of hotels and casinos, and plants for water supply and waste management. Macau employers are looking to Hong Kong for talent and this demand is expected to continue for the next few years. Professionals who relocate from Hong Kong find that working conditions are similar and that their families enjoy a better quality of life.