‘Lack of strong networks’ the biggest barrier to opportunities

By LinkedIn | Wednesday, 20 Feb 2019

LinkedIn has revealed that Hong Kong ranks 8th out of 9 markets in its inaugural LinkedIn Opportunity Index of APAC. The Index is a composite measure which seeks to understand how people perceive opportunity and more importantly, the barriers that may prevent them from getting to those opportunities. Hong Kong’s low ranking indicates a less positive outlook and confidence amongst everyday people accessing opportunities.

Hong Kong, like other developed markets such as Singapore, Australia and Japan, trailed in the Index, as people expressed concerns over the economic outlook, as well as their general apprehension towards their chances of accessing, and achieving success with opportunities that are relevant to them.

Adam Gregory, Senior Director, Talent Solutions, APAC, LinkedIn, said “We believe that access to opportunity should be universal and for everyone. With the inaugural LinkedIn Opportunity Index, our aim is to gain an insight into the aspirations of people across the Asia Pacific region, including Hong Kong, how they fell about the opportunities they want to pursue as well as barriers that may stand in their way. The workforce in the region, especially in Hong Kong, is a key asset that, if harnessed effectively, is going to continue to drive the economies. Over time, by tracking people’s perception of opportunity and the barriers they face, we hope we can continue to facilitate more of a balance between demand and supply in the opportunity marketplace.”

Hong Kongers are less confident, but they are still ambitious in their career

While Hong Kongers are less confident on both the economic situation and opportunities ahead, they are still ambitious, with great career aspirations. When asked about what opportunities they are currently looking for, four out of the top five answers are career-related, namely, finding a rewarding job (18 percent); developing/growing their own business (13 percent); learning a new skill (13 percent); and career advancement (12 percent).

The ultimate aspiration for many Hong Kongers is to have more options in life (46 percent) and a job which offers a good work-life balance (42 percent). The goal of having better work life balance is strongly echoed by other respondents in the region such as Singapore (48 percent), Australia (46 percent), Malaysia and the Philippines (both at 44 percent).

Over a third (38 percent) of Hong Kongers also want to be able to utilise their skills. In an environment where the prospect of being displaced from one’s job due to the impact of AI/automation and other shifts in the marketplace, professionals recognise the need to upskill to stay relevant.

Meaningful network and working hard come hand-in-hand

The late-1970s and 1980s was when the Hong Kong people coined “the golden era” — a period when the economy was booming. Hong Kong was perceived as a city with numerous opportunities. One could succeed if they work hard.

Fast forward to 2018, Hong Kongers believe hard work is not enough given the city is becoming more competitive. What they also need connections to the right people to help them access opportunities. Respondents ranked knowing right people or having the right connections (86 percent) and working hard (84 percent) are the top two factors to get ahead in life.

Willingness to embrace change (82 percent) and level of education (81 percent) are also among the top most important factors, outnumbering belonging to a wealthy family (51 percent), which embodies the city’s “can-do” spirit and proves that everyday individuals believe in taking in charge of their own lives by focusing on areas that they can control.

Hong Kongers lack the right connections despite acknowledging its importance

Despite agreeing to the importance of knowing the right people, Hong Kongers, however, named lack of networking and connection (32 percent) as their largest barriers to success, while lack of financial security (26 percent) and challenging job market (22 percent) only come in second and third.

The good news is building a meaningful network is not as difficult as many have thought. In fact, it is a barrier easier to overcome compared to improving one’s financial status or surviving in a difficult job market.

Taking part in industry conversations, building personal brand and network globally are three easy yet effective ways to get a head start in building a meaningful network.

“While success and opportunities mean something different to every one of us, we can count on our community for help. Whether it is learning a new skill, networking or sharing guidance, the good news is we can all help one another to unlock and create opportunities,” said Adam.

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