Venturenix, an IT and digital talent search firm, released the 5 Hong Kong IT Salary Guide in May this year, pointing out that Hong Kong is in urgent need of 2022,<> new IT talents, including <>,<> software engineers, in the next five years. In a city where finance is the backbone and labor costs are high, high-paying programs such as business, law and medicine are the more popular options, while practitioners in the information technology and digital economy are often in an awkward position: they earn more than average wages, but they are not as high-paying as in mainland China and Singapore. When mainland Internet companies use Hong Kong as a pilot to go overseas, many talents are thinking about whether working in Hong Kong is a good choice?


Special Report on "Mainland Internet Enterprises Going Overseas" (2).


Some scholars who study the digital economy believe that the ecology of China's Internet industry is very rich, just like Meituan's business and Meituan Takeaway, which provides more employment opportunities for people at the bottom. (Visual China)

Jobs in Hong Kong are not so "volume"

"The workplace in Hong Kong is not as 'volume' as in the mainland." -- This is a common assessment of workers from the Mainland. Xiaojin, who came to Hong Kong from the mainland this year to join Meituan's Hong Kong brand KeeTa, said that the workplace atmosphere in Hong Kong that emphasizes "work-life balance" is very attractive to him, unlike the mainland, which is "volatile" and often requires overtime. In addition, Hong Kong has a high degree of freedom in work, because the boss pays more attention to results, as long as he can complete his work tasks on time, he can freely decide the time to commute to and from work, and he does not need to reply to the boss's messages after work, so he can enjoy his personal time to the fullest.

The word "volume" is an extension of the mainland Internet buzzword from "involution", which means that people irrationally compete excessively in the context of limited resources and lack of increment, and is now commonly used to describe excessive or fierce competition. For example, if there are employees in the office who work overtime for one hour after work every day, other employees will follow suit; When everyone starts working one hour of overtime, someone will work two hours of overtime; And so on, it will become more and more volumetric.

Xiao Jin admits that compared with the mainland, the number of Internet companies in Hong Kong is very small, and it can even be said that it is an "Internet desert", so when applying for a job, he always gives priority to the Hong Kong branch of the mainland Internet giant. He believes that it is a trend for mainland Internet companies to set up branches in Hong Kong, not only Meituan, but also ByteDance has rented offices in Hong Kong, and Alibaba, Huawei, Vipshop, Dewu and other Internet companies have set up branches in Hong Kong one after another.

Banban, another KeeTa intern, feels the same way. Having interned at a mainland company, she believes that KeeTa's internship is "a little bit easier" than in the mainland, because the staff atmosphere is better and there is not much pressure. She also said that the current work needs to have its own insights, such as mining the relationship between data, so she can get in touch with more core content. However, as for the development of Hong Kong's Internet industry, she bluntly said that she "has no special understanding", only knowing that the SAR government is actively promoting the fintech industry, and she does not even know how to get more job search information, so she can only rely on the job postings posted by university teachers in class groups, or browse job search websites on her own.

According to the data released by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, employees engaged in general IT management tend to earn higher incomes, with an average monthly salary of more than HK$5,3. For employees engaged in research and development (IT-related) and IT security, the average monthly salary ranges from HK$9,<> to HK$<>,<>. (Office of the Government Chief Information Officer)

The "value for money for income" is much lower than that of the Mainland

As for whether to continue to work in the Internet industry in Hong Kong, Banban adheres to a wait-and-see attitude. "I'll probably look at other industries. First, there are not many Internet companies in Hong Kong; Second, the growth space of the Internet industry is relatively limited, and there are relatively few management positions, and some seniors also say that it may be difficult to rise after a certain age or a certain rank." Banban therefore intends to develop into the health industry or the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of the income in the Internet industry is also the reason for her to change careers, "As far as I know, the entry-level operation position in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen may be a monthly salary of 13K, and I heard that there is 20K here, but if you calculate the cost of living and the exchange rate, it is not much worse."

According to the data released by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (see chart above), employees engaged in general IT management tend to earn more, with an average monthly salary of more than HK$5,3. For employees engaged in research and development (IT-related) and IT security, the average monthly salary ranges from HK$9,42 to HK$4,10. However, the seniority requirements for high-paid general IT management positions are similarly high, with 52.3% of employees requiring 3 years or more of experience and 10.3% requiring 80 to 9 years of experience. Among the employees with less than 79 years of experience, 1.<>% were engaged in infrastructure and operational support, and <>.<>% were engaged in technical services.

On top of the IT industry, there are many options with better incomes. According to the 3 Annual Earnings and Working Hours Survey released by the Census and Statistics Department in March this year (see chart below), from May to June 2022, the education and public administration sector (MOP2022,5) ranked first in terms of median monthly earnings, followed by finance and insurance (MOP6,3), representing a year-on-year increase of 1.3%, which was also the sector with the largest growth excluding miscellaneous activities. Professional, technical and technical activities and information and communication industries ranked fourth and fifth with $05,4 and $3,2 respectively.

Internet jobs are quite decent in Hong Kong's income rankings, but when compared with the disposable income and consumption levels in the mainland, many talents are inevitably hesitant to work in Hong Kong for the cost of income. According to the "China Enterprise Recruitment Salary Report" released by Zhaopin.com, although salaries in the Internet industry fell in the second quarter of 2023, the average salary of the overall industry was 10,705 yuan, and the median was 8,778 yuan, ranking 44th among 16 industries. According to the "Global Cost of Living 2023" report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong ranks fifth highest in the world in terms of cost of living, while Beijing, which has a relatively high price relative to the whole country, only ranks 60th in the world.

According to the 3 Annual Earnings and Working Hours Survey released by the Census and Statistics Department in March this year, the median monthly earnings for May and June 2022 ranked first in the education and public administration sector (MOP2022,5), followed by the financial and insurance sector (MOP6,3). (Compiled by Hong Kong 1)

The core technical departments remained at headquarters

As far as Hong Kong is concerned, will the entry of the Mainland's Internet platforms bring new opportunities to local I&T and technical personnel?

KeeTa employees revealed that the team currently has about 100-150 people, mainly involved in operations, business analysis and business development departments. It is not difficult to see that KeeTa is making "local" efforts in terms of staffing: 80% of its employees are locals, and interns are also skewed to hire people with Hong Kong living experience. However, higher-level managers are transferred from the mainland: first, they can save costs, because the labor cost of recruiting senior executives locally is high; Second, it is more in line with business development, because the supply of similar management talents in Hong Kong is relatively tight, and those who have transferred from the mainland are more familiar with Meituan's food delivery business. In addition, KeeTa's technical staff is still based in Beijing and has no plans to relocate to Hong Kong for the time being.

In fact, even if they have gone overseas, Internet companies still tend to keep their technical staff at their headquarters. Terry has 3 years of IT experience, and most of the technical teams he has worked for have been based in mainland China and Hong Kong, and he has also worked in Taiwan. Like Meituan, the Hong Kong office is mainly responsible for business, while the technical team remains on the mainland. However, this is not the only practice of mainland Internet companies, as is the case with companies such as Facebook and Google in Europe and the United States, with the exception of the Bitcoin and Web <> industries that have emerged in recent years, so many technical people in Hong Kong have flowed to these companies.

Insiders speculate that this may be to save costs, after all, technicians are becoming more and more popular, and salaries are getting higher. However, Terry pointed out that labor costs in Beijing, Shenzhen and other places are rising, and the gap with Hong Kong is already very weak, so many development centers have a tendency to move to Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Therefore, in addition to considering labor costs, Terry believes that companies may prefer to place the core technology in the location of the parent company, after all, the management cost of setting up a technology department overseas is too high.

Cao Zhongxiong believes that Internet companies are "multi-headquarters layout", which makes a great contribution to the entire job market. (Photo provided by the interviewee)

There are many local start-ups and few management positions

From this point of view, although mainland Internet companies are stationed in Hong Kong, they may not be able to relocate a large number of technical talents to Hong Kong, nor may they be able to bring about technology transfer. So, does this make a limited contribution to Hong Kong's talent market and I&T development?

Cao Zhongxiong, director of the Institute of Digital Strategy and Economy of the Shenzhen Comprehensive Development Research Institute, a "national high-end think tank", believes that Internet companies are not like production-oriented enterprises, which only set up a branch factory and administrators, but have a multi-headquarters layout, such as international headquarters and Bay Area headquarters. For example, Alibaba, Tencent, and Meituan Shenzhen all have many internal talents, and the chief scientist of Tencent's AI Lab AI Lab is a cross-regional talent, working for Tencent's mainland headquarters and Hong Kong's Chinese University.

Cao Zhongxiong also pointed out that we should not only look at the contribution of Internet companies to the Internet industry, but also refer to the effect on the entire job market: "The ecology of China's Internet industry is very rich, just like Meituan's business and Meituan Takeaway, which provides more employment opportunities for people at the bottom. There are fewer and fewer factories in Shenzhen, but the population has not decreased, because many labor-intensive enterprise talents or industrial workers have moved to the Internet business team, such as Didi drivers and food delivery boys."

Compared with the mainland, Hong Kong has a small number of Internet companies, and there are no "giants", most of them are start-ups. There are usually two main employment directions for related technicians: one is a start-up company, and the other is a technical position in a financial company. Terry, a senior practitioner mentioned above, said that for practitioners who have just graduated, the starting salary in a start-up is generally 30,<> yuan, and if the company develops well, the monthly salary may rise to nearly <>,<> yuan; However, once you reach the age of <>, it may be difficult for these start-ups to offer them if they want to take on managerial jobs.

Mr. Man said that Hong Kong has the right time, location, people and advantages for start-ups to grow. (Pictures of Sea and Sky Venture Capital)

There is no shortage of funds in Hong Kong, only good projects

However, Terry believes that his employment is not limited by geography. With the rise of the Internet industry, the world is competing for IT talents, and many overseas companies will take the initiative to help non-local employees apply for work visas, for example, some of Terry's former colleagues left because they were hired by European companies, and he also admitted that he would be willing to go to local construction sites if there were better opportunities in the mainland. Therefore, he believes that the impact on local enterprises of mainland Internet giants coming to Hong Kong is quite limited.

Li Wen, the founder of Beyond Ventures, shared his views as an entrepreneur. He said that compared to five years ago, when the company was first established, Hong Kong's current start-up environment has become more friendly, for example, there are many more active funds, including many government funds. However, Wen Li believes that Hong Kong is not short of money, "maybe even more money than the mainland, but there is a lack of good projects", and local entrepreneurs have not changed much.

Focusing on local start-ups, the first phase of the Fund invested in about 30 projects, 26 of which were related to Hong Kong, but no more than 10% were purely local. Wen Li mentioned that some foreign teams could not find suitable technical talents in Hong Kong, so they relocated the team to Malaysia. There is also a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who made chips, and finally returned to the mainland. He explained that because Hong Kong's market is so small, at least half of the projects they invest in are in the mainland, while others are targeting Europe, the United States or Southeast Asia.

Internet companies go overseas. 2. When I&T talents encounter the "Internet Desert" – what are they thinking about?