FDM opens Hong Kong training centre to boost IT skills, women’s participation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 6:03pm

A British professional services company that trains graduates in information technology to work as consultants for major companies is expanding its presence in Hong Kong and Asia as it seeks to fill a global skills gap and increase the number of women in the sector.

London-based FDM group gives graduates and women returning to work 16 weeks of IT training ranging from cyber security to application support, an area of importance to its banking clients, which include HSBC, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse in Hong Kong.

The company opened a training centre in Hong Kong at the beginning of the year and will launch another training academy in Singapore next year.

“Worldwide, there is a shortage of IT skills, and if we don’t encourage more women to join the sector then we’re really not helping to reduce the skills gap,” Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer of FDM Group said.

FDM in Hong Kong has recruited 97 trainees this year, with almost 70 per cent coming from local universities, and 28 per cent of recruits are female.

In 2014, women made up 33 per cent of Hong Kong’s first-year undergraduate intake for science, technology and engineering and maths (STEM) degrees, down from 34 per cent in 2013, Education Bureau statistics show.

The city saw 811 people graduate from full-time computer science and information technology undergraduate courses for the 2014/2015 academic year, up from 798 on the previous year.

More than 80,000 people are employed in the IT sector in Hong Kong, according to a 2014 survey by the Vocational Training Council.

FDMs trainees work for the firm as consultants for two years upon completion of their training, after which they do not need to repay their training costs.

Most trainees spend two and half years with the firm before being recruited by clients, Flavell said, adding that 528 consultants have taken up permanent employment with HSBC alone.

Flavell said the firm’s consultants appeal to clients as they are less expensive than contractors and cuts to budgets mean there are fewer resources available to give staff necessary skills in-house.

An increasingly strict regulatory environment means financial services firms have a greater requirement for IT talent, especially in risk and compliance, Flavell said.

Kitee Fu, manager, IT Commerce for recruitment firm Robert Walters said many Hong Kong companies outsource their IT needs to countries including India and China as it is easier and cheaper to find qualified candidates, such as developers, overseas.

Fu pointed to cloud computing and cyber security as two areas she expects to see strong growth, and the need for more staff, in the next three to five years.

As more foreign cloud-based software vendors come to Hong Kong, Fu said they will need to hire technical staff such as implementation consultants.

“It is still a very candidate short market, meaning that when we’re talking about cloud specialist and cloud technologists, it’s still a relatively new trend in Hong Kong. So you won’t see people that are highly experienced,” Fu said.