Building IT talent from the ground up

Sheila Lam

In today's globalized business environment, Hong Kong has much to contribute to China's development, particularly in the IT industry. Leung quoted the example of China's cloud computing strategy, which includes plans to build five major cloud cities within the country.

"Instead of being the sixth cloud city, Hong Kong should aim to be the 'Five Plus One' cloud city for China," he said. "Hong Kong can bring its globalization experience, service quality and efficient processes to China's five cloud cities."

Leung added that local management and process re-engineering skills can bring value to different projects within China, and, at the same time, business opportunities for the Hong Kong IT industry.

License for perfection

Leung said that IT professionals also require recognition of their expertise. Many professional industries, like law and accounting, run a chartered program and issue licenses to practitioners based on their expertise and capabilities. But a similar universal accreditation system is not available within IT.

He added the certification is not a pat on the shoulder for IT professionals, but to ensure quality operation of IT systems, which are becoming critical in our daily lives. "Almost all industries these days rely on IT," said Leung, "and different IT systems play a critical role in businesses and sometimes even lives. Look at the train accident that happened in China a few months ago--that accident was caused not by human error, but system failure."

Leung said with more enterprises are relying on complex and specialized IT systems, the accreditation of IT professionals to build and maintain them becomes even more critical.

Local entrepreneurship

As the industry and the government are identifying and developing new directions to rejuvenate the local IT industry, academics have also launched different programs to "re-brand" the local industry among students.

"Influenced by the media, and sometimes by parents, most students do not realize IT does provide opportunities for a successful career," said Chan from Poly U. In Hong Kong, where entrepreneurship remains strong and active, he said IT is a good breeding ground for local entrepreneurs.

"IT is the most entrepreneur-friendly industry," he said. "The cost to start an IT business is minimal, especially when servers can be hosted in the cloud. Almost anyone with an idea and computer can start a business in IT."

Compared with industries like finance, where the entrepreneur may need a large capital stake or must deal with various regulatory requirements to launch a financial product, IT is a relatively low-cost business start-up. But the return can be enormous. "When we look at the richest people in China, some of them, like William Ding from Netease and Ma Huateng from Tencent, are IT entrepreneurs," said Chan.

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