The launch of several large infrastructure projects by the Hong Kong government, coupled with the additional railway lines of the MTR Corporation, has reinvigorated demand for civil engineers specialising in these areas. Five new lines extending the MTR are in various stages of planning and design, and construction will begin in the next few months, according to Andrew Chan Ka-ching, president-elect of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. The MTR will soon start the design of the South Island Line. The Express Rail Line from West Kowloon to the mainland is at its detailed design stage, while the design of the West Island Line is completed and construction will start shortly. Dr Chan said: 'These projects are part of Hong Kong's infrastructure for the future because the local railway-based sustainable mobility network is incomplete.' Driven by these projects, demand in Hong Kong for design and construction-related civil engineers will build up this year through to next year. The MTR and its contractors are expected to hire design engineers, particularly those specialising in tunnels, bridges and highways, and railway design engineers. Dr Chan said graduate engineers with six to 10 years of work experience in related fields would be mainly in demand. Dr Chan is also deputy chairman of Arup Group, an international engineering consultancy firm. When these projects move into the construction stage, the companies will recruit up to several hundred resident site supervising engineers at all levels. The openings will include construction management, contract management and structural engineers. Other infrastructure projects under way include the redevelopment of the old Kai Tak airport site, Ocean Park and the construction of the bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau. Andrew Booth, a team leader for civil engineering and construction at NES Global, an international company specialising in engineering recruitment, said: 'The continuing redevelopment of Ocean Park involves tunnel work and building of new areas which require additional project managers and quantity surveyors. 'The [former] Kai Tak airport site project is a mixed-use development and is at the feasibility stage. The present demand is for geotechnical engineers.' The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is expected to be a major driver for the regional construction sector. 'This project, a complex, long-span cable-stayed bridge, is at an initial design stage,' Mr Booth said. Dr Chan said the improvement work of the Tuen Mun Highway and the Tolo Highway widening project would both begin soon and many resident site supervising engineers would be recruited. Douglas Simmons, associate director of highways and transport infrastructure at Atkins China, said one of the key demands from the infrastructure and railway projects in Hong Kong was for tunnel engineers. 'Tunneling is a specialised area and a lot of local experience is beneficial. In addition to railway projects, the harbour area treatment scheme will have many underground tunnels and shafts,' Mr Simmons said. Atkins China provides design consultancy services to several rail projects in Hong Kong. 'We need to recruit a wide range of engineering professionals to complement existing staff,' Mr Simmons said. 'Because these are detailed design projects we will also hire graduate engineers to help with the detailed viaduct and highway infrastructure design. 'Each of these projects is very large and would have many people working on them, either at the clients' offices or at our head office,' he said. The company has openings for tunnel engineers with five to 10 years of experience, senior geotechnical engineers familiar with Hong Kong ground conditions with five to 10 years of experience, and contract engineers with 10 to 15 years of experience in contract administration and the preparation of contract documents and project specifications. 'Atkins China always has vacancies for fresh chartered engineers because they can generally turn their hand to anything,' Mr Simmons said. 'We are also hiring chartered engineers with up to four years of experience to be team leaders.' Mr Simmons said the salary level of experienced tunnel engineers had improved due to strong demand driven by the launch of railway and foundation projects. These engineers went to work on overseas projects two or three years ago because few projects were available locally. He said salaries of station engineers and civil building engineers had not increased much because private sector building sites had been hit badly by the economic recession and there was less pressure to increase salaries in these areas. 'But some of these engineers are transferring their skills to railway station projects and civil structures,' Mr Simmons said.