[overview] THE JOB PROSPECTS for qualified engineers have picked up in the past couple of years, but there is still some cause for concern in the sector. 'The situation is not improving fast enough,' said Wong Kwok-lai, president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, which represents more than 20,000 members of the profession. 'While major ongoing infrastructure projects require construction and design engineers, there have been fewer residential projects in recent years, especially for public housing,' Mr Wong said. 'However, Macau's gaming industry is developing fast and will need Hong Kong engineers to supervise and design casinos, hotels and entertainment centres.' He said that Hong Kong developers had also been investing more in the mainland market, creating new jobs for experienced structural and civil engineers. Large and stable companies such as CLP Power and the Hong Kong and China Gas Company continued to have steady demand for engineers. But they would only gear up their hiring programmes if major expansion plans were approved, Mr Wong said. He noted that no substantial change was expected in the manufacturing sector, even for companies making mobile phones and electronic products, since the focus was on getting the maximum from existing resources. Mr Wong said he was confident that Hong Kong still provided high-level academic and professional training, which engineers needed to develop successful careers locally and on the mainland. 'I've never heard employers say they can't find suitable candidates, even when they are looking for experienced engineers with the management skills to work on major projects,' he said. He said he had been encouraged to see employers ready to take on more graduates for entry-level positions. Such recruits joined a structured training scheme that offered practical experience and led to full professional qualifications.