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Hong Kong’s Data market in Q1: Return of Retail, Rise of Data Engineering, and more

With 2020’s gloom finally behind us, the Data job market is beginning to stabilise as more companies are looking to hire. Despite the lack of big changes in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, the job market didn’t slow down at all these past months as it would normally around late December before picking back up after CNY. What we’ve also witnessed is the burn-out among many senior people, who’ve been trying to juggle between their professional and personal lives amidst the 4th wave of the pandemic.


Junior vs Senior roles

The biggest difference between 2020 and 2021, in my perspective, has been the acceleration in hiring for junior roles across sectors. Juniors with one to three years of experience are sought after by companies who don’t have a strong data culture, where they’ll work in different capacities, from data analysis, ETL, dashboard and sometimes a bit of DOC on Data Science.

Having previously stopped their data projects, a lot of companies are now also keen to hire more Senior Data Analytics and Scientist to get a better understanding of the market, as data has been the key to enabling better decision making and guiding overall organisational strategies. On the other hand, roles that are Director level and above are still quite hard to find because of the natural turnover, where most of these candidates are only passively open to new opportunities and not in a rush to move.


Exodus, myth or reality?

Under the current political climate, many speculate a rise in talent migration away from Hong Kong, but is that the case? The short answer is no, at least not within the Data market. While some have been quite affirmative on their move to the UK, Europe, Australia or Canada, the majority is still keen to stay. The real change in the equation is around long-term career aspirations, where many junior candidates are planning to move abroad in the next three to four years. Besides the perceived exodus, the number of overseas applicants has also been on a decline, a likely result due to restrictions around the COVID situation which make taking up a new job overseas challenging.


Retail is back

In the past quarter, Retail was one of the sectors under the spotlight, and that’s for a good reason. While some multinationals have decided to move their operations to China to be closer to their customers, the ones who decided to stay have been looking at expanding their Data teams. They aren’t necessarily hiring the most technical profiles, but they’re utilising data to devise better strategies in driving their Sales and Marketing operations, and those backed by large conglomerates are also pushing for loyalty and advanced CRM programs. No matter in Commerce or Financial Services, companies are utilising data in becoming more customer-centric.


Rise of Data Engineering

It probably won’t come as a surprise, but Hong Kong is in a serious shortage of Data Engineering talent. A lot of companies are looking to speed up their digital transformation, data analytics platform, data warehouse and Cloud migration, and these projects are now taking priority as compared to data science or deep learning. As a result, a lot of previously underpaid candidates were able to get a good increment and be involved in interesting projects, sometimes in comparatively smaller firms. I foresee tensions with these profiles to remain strong in the next couple of months.


While the Data job market hasn’t yet returned to what it’s used to be back in 2018 and 2019, it’s definitely trending in the right direction. If you’re curious to find out more about how the market is performing or if you need any support with your hiring, don’t hesitate to contact me at pherard@argyllscott.com.hk.

Posted over 2 years ago
About the author:
Paris Herard

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