Labor market in Hong Kong
From being a small fishery village in the 1950’s to the blue-collar based workers in the 1970’s to the present well-known trading metropolis in Asia, Hong Kong has experienced two industrial revolutions. In both changes, there is an obvious drop in employment rate in one industry while a rise in the other. For example, from the government’s statistics (ref. Appendix 1 and Figure 1) we can see that in the 90’s, the industries with the largest decrease and increase in employment are manufacturing and wholesale/retail respectively. Hence, it illustrates the diminishing of the secondary sector and emergence of the tertiary.
Hence we can see that at present, the secondary sector is disappearing and part of the reason is because since technology is capable of replacing workers, the demand for manual labor has decreased. Since they are not needed anymore, the people who originally own manufacturing skills will now be considered as “unskilled” and earn a lower wage. This is because skill, as well as gender, qualifications, experience etc. is a very important factor when considering wage levels and hence those with valid skills will earn a higher wage than those who do not. I. T.
– Another Industrial Revolution Now, there seems to be a fourth sector of industry coming in and that is the IT industry. The entrance of this new industry is called the third industrial revolution where technology will gradually wipeout human labor-intensive posts such as clerks, secretaries, receptionists etc. This can be proved from the results of my survey. (A sample of my survey is attached Appendix 4) (ref. Fig 2) Fifty-seven percent of the people surveyed claimed that they have participated in IT retraining programs, hence this proves the pressure involved when IT is introduced.
This pressure can again be proved by another question from my survey i. e. “Has the emergence of the IT industry every caused insecurity about your job? ” ( Appendix 4 and fig. 3) The staff who manage to stay in the firm will all be of high managerial status where all they have to do is to make major decisions where technology still cannot do. However, this will mean high unemployment rates among the low-skilled workers whose work are based on paper and filing areas. Disadvantages of Technology This change may seem distant yet it is already taking place, ( ref.
Appendix 2) especially in multi-national companies such as Morgan Stanley and Microsoft where workforces are constantly re-organized to eliminate activities lacking value in order to remain competitive. Hence, lowly or semi-skilled staff will be at high-risk of being fired since they won’t be needed anymore. The ones who are left will be expected to treat three times as much workload who may feel insecurity in their job anyway as they may be fired at any time. This prediction has been reinforced by an economic expert, (ref. Appendix 2) Dr.
Otto Lin of HKUST who has given a word of advice to business groups, that is to be prepared to quickly accept IT in the work environment in order to remain competitive. SUPPLY Unemployment Expected even without I. T. While Hong Kong’s standard of living continues to rise, workers (especially in the manufacturing industry which consists of labor-intensive work) have grown to be more demanding in terms of wage levels and fringe benefits such as retiring benefits, environment safety etc. hence it has become more troublesome for employers.
The workers of Hong Kong have become more and more demanding because education has improved massively and they are more aware of the rights they own. From fig 3, we can see that as the supply of labor increases, the wage rates decrease hence labor is a lot cheaper in the Mainland China, (ref. Appendix 3) so employers which own factories have turned to locate their plants in the mainland. China is less developed so many of the workers demand a lot less and are willing to work harder even in drastic working environments hence for the same job, there is a larger supply of workers in the mainland than it is in Hong Kong.