HR’s solution to Hong Kong’s looming manpower crisis

by Hannah Norton13 May 2015
The vast majority of Hong Kong HR professionals want to see people working longer in their golden years to help lessen the tight labour market, according to a new study.

A recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) found that nearly 80% of the country’s HR professionals and practitioners believe that raising retirement age is an effective measure to alleviate pressure in Hong Kong's manpower shortage.

Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley economists predicted the labour pool would shrink faster than expected, with the working age population expected to post almost no growth after this year and next, and beginning to decline from 2017 onwards.

In November, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung predicted the city's labor force of 3.59 million would only start to decline after 2018.

Results of the HKIHRM study, which surveyed 386 HR professionals during April, were released on Monday.

Eighty-two percent of respondents supported raising the retirement age. Of the respondents in support of raising the age level, 78% believed it would be an effective way to address Hong Kong’s tight labour market.

Currently, the country does not have a standard retirement age, but the government has decided to lengthen the retirement age of newly hired civil servants from 60 to 65 to encourage other employers to consider expanding the working life of their employees.

Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents indicated their employers stipulated a retirement age – nearly two-thirds of which is set at 60.

Of these, 71% suggested setting retirement age at 65, and 24% believed it should be extended above 65.

Reasons supporting this argument included that workers “are still in good health and can work longer" (74%), “wanted to be productive and contribute to the society" (68%) and "better able to choose whether to work longer than asked to retire" (66%).

President of HKIHRM David Li agreed extending the retirement age was a good measure to address acute manpower shortage.

Singapore’s labour market is in a similar state, according to figures released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) last month.

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