Hong Kong’s civil service replaces Google as students’ most ideal employer, survey finds

Four banks also feature in top 10 employers for students in Universum survey of 4,000 students from Hong Kong’s six leading universities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 6:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2018, 11:17am

Hong Kong’s civil service replaced Google as students’ most sought after employer in the city, according to an annual survey.

The government rose from third place as the most attractive employer for business students in 2017, ending US internet giant Google’s three-year reign, according to Universum, the Swedish-based employer branding company. HKSAR government also ranked first for engineering students and for humanities students, retaining its top spots for both from 2017.

More than 4,000 students from Hong Kong’s six leading universities were surveyed online by Universum as part of their annual global talent survey.

American multinational investment bank JPMorgan took third place for business students. A total of four banks were in the top 10 employers for business students, making it one of the most popular future career paths.

“In many regional markets we’ve seen banking employers drop down the rankings due to unfavourable perceptions around the employment experience they offer, but not so in Hong Kong,” said Mike Parsons, marketing director for APAC at Universum.

The banking industry in Hong Kong is very much alive and well and shouldn’t suffer in the fight for top talent as has been the case in other markets
Mike Parsons, marketing director for APAC at Universum

Regionally, banking has had difficulty retaining talent as it is associated with long working hours and environments that lack creativity and friendliness. In Singapore, for example, the industry’s average ranking among business students fell from 15 in 2012, to 38 in 2018.

But banks made gains with Hong Kong’s business students this year. Alongside JPMorgan moving from fourth to third place, HSBC stayed in fifth position; Morgan Stanley jumped six places to rank seventh, and Goldman Sachs rose three spots, to number eight.

“The banking industry in Hong Kong is very much alive and well and shouldn’t suffer in the fight for top talent as has been the case in other markets,” said Parsons.

Gains could be attributed to banks offering what participants say they want in an ideal employer.

Just under 60 per cent of business students placed professional training and development as the top job characteristic they look for. It comes in the top three most attractive attributes across the region.

Google, EY and the civil service are Hong Kong graduates’ ideal employers, survey says

“Students realise, now more than ever, that many of the skills required to be successful in today’s global workforce are not being taught in school. They expect employers to fill those gaps, to train them and develop them both personally and professionally,” said Rachele Focardi, chief strategy officer for APAC at Universum.

A recent survey by Universum found 70 per cent of Generation Z – those aged 15-18 – in Hong Kong would consider skipping university if employers offered training in the skills needed to perform professionally, she added.

For engineering students, the top three employers were the same as last year. Google again took second place as an ideal employer, and the city’s MTR Corporation was third. Apple was also ranked in the top 10 for both business and engineering students.

Pay expectations are also on the rise, with 47 per cent of Hong Kong talent choosing high future earnings as a top job characteristic.

Annual average expected salary for male business students rose over 12 per cent since last year, from HK$234,274 (US$29,844) to HK$262,944. Female students’ expectations increased from HK$217,923 to HK$233,057.

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At the same time, students’ top career goal of a “work/life balance” remained the same as last year, and many considered it to be more attractive than higher pay. A total of 42 per cent said they would accept lower wages for flexible working hours, and 30 per cent would agree to less money in return for more medical benefits.

With unemployment in the city at 2.8 per cent, its lowest rate since 1998, having a secure or stable job came as the second highest career goal.