The education sector in Hong Kong finds itself in a period of uncertainty, like many other industries, due to recent events, particularly the protests and the outbreak of COVID-19. However, amongst the uncertainty, companies within education are still recruiting - just that the hiring process looks very different and there has been a shift in which roles are in demand.

In this article, the Michael Page Education team presents more insights into the effects of these current events, along with how digital transformation is changing hiring demands.

Digital transformation driving change

Perhaps driven even more urgently by the current state of the world in which remote working is becoming a priority, digital transformation remains at the top of everyone’s agenda, including in the education sector.

Larger scale international publishers are undergoing transformation with the constant push for new product innovation, such as launching digital products with an emphasis on better UX/UI. Additionally, they are focussing on product diversification, such as positioning themselves as educational service providers instead of publishers.

As a result of digital transformation, EdTech is in a period of growth, with an increase in demand for digital content creators for schools and learning centres, usually in the form of contractors. We are also receiving more hiring requests from innovative education start-ups from overseas to expand into Asia with Hong Kong or Singapore as their initial location.

While the push is strong, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a relatively traditional industry, and technical transformation appears to be slow due to the lack of urgency in day-to-day operations, resistance from staff and the lack of precedence in the industry.

Coronavirus outbreak increases demand for EdTech

With the Coronavirus outbreak, we find that most industry practitioners have, to different extents, responded to this unfortunate event by accelerating their EdTech initiatives that have been pending on their to-do lists. As optimistic and forward-looking education leaders seize this unique opportunity, the hiring needs derived from digital transformation and EdTech have surged over the past few months.

Changing hiring demands and trends

These are a few more hiring demands and trends within the education sector that we have seen.

  • There has been increasing hiring demand for Admission Consultants, which some hiring managers see as a result of the previous social unrest that has prompted the middle class to look for their kids’ study abroad options at a younger age.
  • Some household education providers in franchise models encountered major challenges in finding balance, resulting in the shut-down of locations or putting most, if not all staff, on no-paid leaves.
  • Supply for expat teachers has been very tight since Fall 2019, due to various social issues causing these professionals to look at opportunities outside of Hong Kong. Conversely, demand remains high, so some educational institutions have decided to secure top professionals right away - with a delayed start date to ensure that the candidates are still available and receive proper onboarding when business is back to normal.
  • Despite the market slowdown, there are still some plans (work-in-progresses) for new education centres and international schools at the pre-launch stage. These are most likely backed by investment groups that are planning to bring a brand to the city and run as operators, rather than creating their own brands.
  • Some potential merger and acquisition activities are still cautiously progressing - often with objectives of investment groups trying to leverage on the heritage and resources of some well-established brand names to create synergy for other education-related business, in both Hong Kong and Greater China.
  • More companies have plans to structure the business in the cluster of “Greater Bay Area” to hope for greater synergy.

All these trends and events show that the education sector is still active, it is just a matter of readjusting expectations of the market and traditional mindsets.

For more information about the education sector within Hong Kong, please contact Gabriel Nam at [email protected] for a chat. 

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