THE MAINLAND'S changing social and economic environment could spell good news for Hong Kong service industries that offer top-level service training. George Leung Siu-kay, HSBC chief economist, Greater China, said one of the biggest changes taking place on the mainland today was rapid urbanisation, which was generating a growth in service industries. 'As everyone already knows, China has no shortage of people, what they require is others to teach them the service skills to keep pace with social expectations and development,' Mr Leung said. 'Employers will not only be looking for factory workers, they will also need to recruit employees with service skills and the ability to provide added value to industry sectors they work in.' Mr Leung said Hong Kong's service-orientated companies could tap into the service skills training market. 'Hong Kong is highly developed with first-rate service standards, sophisticated infrastructure and plenty of experience when it comes to delivering services at an international standard,' he said. 'With growing urbanisation, China would need more people to work in the service sector, and they will need to receive training.' Hong Kong companies excel in areas such as hotel and catering, real estate management and the financial services, which could create training opportunities. 'Over the next decade I expect to see the mainland economy change from [being] export driven to an economy that relies far more on domestic consumption. This will change the makeup of the labour market completely,' Mr Leung said. In addition to the need for manpower in the service sectors, there would also be a demand for salespeople, marketing professionals and merchandisers. This could create opportunities for Hong Kong businesses both in providing services and products and skills training. Mr Leung said mainland banks, insurance companies and financial services providers would all need employees with high levels of service skills to meet the expectations of a developing social and economic society. 'When an economy changes from export focused to domestic consumer driven it changes the economic and social picture entirely. Suddenly there is a need for domestic marketing and salespeople. As consumption increases there is also a need for engineers to look after home appliances and people to provide after-sales services.' Mr Leung said international restaurant and supermarket chains had already established outlets in coastal cities, drawn by their residents' purchasing power and looser restrictions on foreign businesses. Restaurants, hotels and supermarkets catering to expatriate businessmen, diplomats and foreign tourists have also played an influential role in the development of local industries in many cities. Mr Leung said as this trend continued and more mainland people were attracted to the different types of international products and services, more service-oriented labour would be required to work in emerging service sectors. Mr Leung said the proliferation of restaurants, supermarkets, advertising, new products and attractively packaged goods signalled Chinese consumers' new, more prominent influence in their country's economy. Increasingly affluent consumers are demanding a wider variety of products and services of better quality and higher value. But Mr Leung said urbanisation and the drive to improve living standards also came at a cost. Water shortages, air pollution and degradation of natural resources, were common problems the mainland needed to face in an attempt to balance economic prosperity with environmental and social well-being. 'Over the past 10 years we have seen phenomenal growth of urbanisation, particularly in the coastal cities and China's more prosperous provinces,' Mr Leung said. During the next decade, several mainland cities with a population of 10million could swell to 15 million or even 20million people and become super cities. As these cities grew, the level of consumption of goods and services would also rise rapidly. Until recent years, most mainland consumers were one and the same, with the bulk of the population living on small farms in rural areas. Mr Leung said rural-urban migration had reduced the share of China's population living on farms.