Employers urged to find ways to attract and keep talent The job market is looking rosy, with vacancy and turnover rates having hit a five-year high last year, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Human Resources Management. The poll results indicated an active labour market, the institute said. 'Because the economy has been strong and companies have more opportunities to develop their businesses, more jobs are available,' institute president Lai Kam-tong said. Nearly one in seven employees changed jobs last year, compared to a little more than one in eight in 2006, and the proportion of jobs unfilled rose more than a quarter from 2006. The financial services sector, where 5.47 per cent of positions were vacant, and shops had the most vacancies. The survey results were released a day after the government announced the jobless rate had fallen to 3.3 per cent in the previous three months - the lowest level in 10 years. 'The labour market in Hong Kong is primed to remain buoyant,' Mr Lai said. 'I believe we will be able to achieve similar data in 2008.' Still, he sounded a note of caution. A number of uncertainties could put the brakes on economic growth, including the economic slowdown in the United States and the credit crunch triggered by steep falls in the value of assets backed by subprime mortgages. 'These may not only affect the mortgage sector, but other financial institutions. Some organisations may have to cut staff,' he said. The institute said its findings showed there was pressure on companies, particularly those in retailing and wholesaling, to give bigger pay rises or risk losing workers. More than three in ten shop staff changed jobs last year - the highest turnover rate. The next most active sector was property development, real estate and construction, with more than one in four employees changing jobs. Nearly one in six clerical and frontline staff changed jobs, and there was a rise in vacancies for middle managers and professionals. Mr Lai encouraged companies to find out why staff leave and adopt long-term pay and career development strategies to help retain employees. 'High staff turnover can lead to a loss of productivity, corporate knowledge, skills and competencies,' he said. San Lee Yin-wah, chief executive of head-hunting firm Wisdom Global Search, pointed to 'a war of talent' in the job market and said companies were finding it more difficult to recruit staff. 'Employers need to pay higher than the market rate to attract talent,' Ms Lee said. 'Many have proactively mapped out three-year plans in contracts which include additional rewards and bonuses.' The researchers interviewed 109 companies, which employ more than 130,000 people. Overall staff turnover was 14.69 per cent. An average of 3.63 per cent of positions was vacant during the year. Net growth in new positions in the fourth quarter was 1.12 per cent, 0.29 percentage points more than in the third quarter.