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Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Jobs and Opportunities
What is the difference between IT and ICT?
Information and communications technology (otherwise known as ICT) is a broad and rapidly expanding industry which has become increasingly integral to the way we live and do business. ICT incorporates both computer hardware and software, as well as telephone, broadcast media and information networks such as the internet. Within that umbrella term of ICT includes information technology (IT), which is often used interchangeably with ICT, although the latter term is the broader one.
The Hong Kong ICT Industry
Hong Kong’s ICT industry is one of the most advanced worldwide, ranking fourth in Asia and 14th in the world in “Network Readiness” according to the 2013 rankings of the World Economic Forum. Broadcasting and telecommunications media are particularly strong. On top of this already impressive standing, the Hong Kong government intends to improve the territory even further to make it a global centre for information and communications. To that end they have invested billions into infrastructure, technology and research facilities, all of which will help grow the ICT economy.
According to a VTC survey, there were 77 698 people working in the Hong Kong IT industry in 2012, the majority of those working in IT/software development and operations management. These numbers are sure to increase, making ICT a sizable and expanding jobs market. ICT professionals may find work in a variety of sectors – while IT services is the largest sector; commercial business (such as wholesale, retail and commercial services) and financial services are two very large markets offering opportunities for ICT professionals.
What do you need to get a job in this industry?
ICT is an industry continually at the forefront of technological change, meaning that to succeed in this industry, a deep understanding of the processes behind information systems and a broadly applicable base of practical skills are required, coupled with a flexible adaptability to new paradigms and ways of working.
Areas of ICT and IT Study
There are a variety of undergraduate degree options available for study – computer science, communications or information technology may be studied as a specialisation in a Bachelor of Science or Engineering, as well as studied as a double degree with a BBA or other degree. Examples of such degrees at major Hong Kong universities include:
- Bachelor of Computer Science
- Bachelor of Computer Engineering
- Bachelor of Computer Science/Integrated Business Administration
- Bachelor of Engineering (Information Engineering)
Within these broad specialisations there are also major and minor specialisations, such as:
- Software development
- Cloud computing
- Microwave and Wireless Engineering
- DSP and Multimedia Technology
Types of ICT jobs
In this field, it is usually the case that roles and titles are not exactly standardised throughout the industry, so the work required for a certain role depends to an extent on the size of the organisation and the context of their business. However below are listed some of the most common roles.
- Applications developer
The role of the app developer is to create an application to fulfill a set of software requirements (such as a piece of accounting software, a game, a social media app etc.) that will work across one or more operating systems and type of device. The job requires one to interpret requirements of the software, design the app, code it, test, implement and maintain it.
- Games developer
The gaming industry is booming and games developers are in demand to create and produce games on multiple devices (including smartphones, computers, and consoles),for niche and mass markets. Because games today (especially video games)are often incredibly complex, most games developers are specialists of a particular skill, such as design, modelling, rendering or quality assurance. Most mass market games are produced by large teams of games developers.
- Database administrator
Database administrators are responsible for the maintenance of data in database systems, making sure that the data is defined, usable, consistent, secure and recoverable – and able to be accessed by all users. Sometimes they may actually develop and troubleshoot the database. They should also be expert users of database management systems.
- Information systems manager
The role of the information systems manager is to purchase, install and back up an organisation’s computer systems. Sometimes they work as part of the organisation’s IT department (if the organisation is large) or they work as an IT service professional. They may also work under the title of “functional manager” or “service delivery manager”. Sometimes an information systems manager may work with the manager and strategists to ensure that the system is integrated properly and accepted by the employees.
- IT consultant
IT consultants are professionals that advise clients on how to make their IT systems more efficient and effective. They are increasingly important to an economy where many businesses outsource their technology department. Their work may involve strategic guidance in helping managers decide what system is right for their business needs; selecting and procuring the hardware; and training the users so that the new system is quickly integrated into the day to day business processes.
- IT sales professional
IT sales professionals work for tech companies and stores, advising customers on the benefits of different products, negotiating and making the sale, and sometimes providing post-sale technical and user support (although those latter jobs may be performed by workers in call centres or retail assistants who are not as expert as the IT sales professional).
- IT technical support officer
The role of the IT tech support officer is a very important one to many businesses, and this job is one of the more common entry-level positions for graduates. Their job is to monitor and maintain the company’s computer systems and communication networks. Sometimes they work permanently as part of the company’s IT department, or they work for an IT services provider and are hired on short-term contracts. The title of the work may vary – sometimes the tech support officer goes by the name of “maintenance engineer” or “help desk manager”..
- Multimedia programmer
Multimedia programmers write, implement, test and debug multimedia programs, such as websites, games, videos, applications or other software.
- Multimedia specialist
Multimedia specialists work alongside multimedia programmers, but their job is on the client side of the job. Instead of doing the actual coding, they create the proposal for the client, assemble a development team, author the finished files (often created by the different members in the team) into one usable program and present it to the client.
- Network engineer
Network engineers have a vital role to play in the installation and maintenance of the computer communication networks – internet and intranet. Sometimes the network engineer will be a specialist role within the organisation (if it is a large company) or the job may be just one of the many responsibilities expected of a tech support officer.
- Systems analyst
Systems analysts study the existing workings and processes in a business, and design new systems and solutions to improve the organisation’s efficiency and productivity.
- Systems developer
Systems developers employ technology to aid the workings of a business or other organisation. Their work may be based on the advice of a systems analyst. Their duties may overlap with those of a software engineer or a web developer.
- Technical author
Technical authors help ordinary people understand how to use technology, by creating user guides, tutorials, instructions, troubleshooting guides and other help. Their help is usually written, but sometimes they also use other forms of media like graphics, videos and animation.
Industry experience will always be advantageous to graduates seeking work – therefore obtaining an internship or doing some part-time work is a great way to try and rise above the competition. Although there are definitely positions available for current students studying computer science to obtain internships in large organisations (whether they be ICT organisations or businesses working in other sectors), the number of such internships available is rather small compared to the number of students who apply, so other alternatives to consider include part-time work as a low-level tech support officer, helping a small business with their IT systems, developing your own app or working in a call centre for an outsourcing tech support company. Any experience, no matter how low-ranking you consider it, shows employers that you possess diligence, commitment and a proactive attitude.
ICT Graduate Salary Estimates
Graduate salaries in the ICT industry are not particularly high – from as low as HK$62 000 to HK$150 000 for general entry level IT services. A few years’ experience significantly increase the salaries however (in some cases, salaries can nearly double with one year’s experience), so it will become worth it eventually.
Some of the benefits of working in the ICT industry for graduates in Hong Kong may include results-driven bonuses (depending on the job), the stimulation of working in a fast-changing industry, flexible hours (and of course the ability to use your skills for your own benefit, fixing and modifying your own technology).