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Hong Kong all in on AI as adoption ramps up
Opportunity to boost innovation, productivity, efficiency, bump up employee salaries
The Asset 21 May 2024

When artificial intelligence (AI) is fully harnessed, Hong Kong workers with AI skills and expertise could see salary hikes up to 28%, with workers in information technology (28%) and research and development (27%) enjoying the highest pay bumps, followed by sales and marketing (25%), according to a recent survey.

On top of significant salary bumps, the research also found that the productivity pay-off from AI could be immense for Hong Kong, finds the Accelerating AI Skills: Preparing the Hong Kong Workforce for Jobs of the Future report by affiliate Amazon Web Services (AWS), which surveyed over 1,600 employees and 500 organizations to better understand emerging AI usage trends and skill needs in Hong Kong workplaces.

Surveyed employers believe that AI can boost their productivity by 40%, while workers believe AI could raise their efficiency by as much as 47%. Both employers and workers expect to see the same top three productivity benefits from using AI:

  • improving workflow and outcomes (72% & 62%)
  • automating repetitive tasks (66% & 60%)
  • supporting learning (53% & 50%).

Employers, the research finds, are also placing greater emphasis on soft skills for employees to possess by 2028, with skills like critical thinking (56%) and creative thinking (52%) considered more important than technical skills like coding (51%). 

All-in on AI

The speed of AI transformation in Hong Kong is remarkable. A total of 84% of employers surveyed used AI-powered tools across their organization in 2023, and this will increase to 94% of all organizations by 2028.

And while most employers believe their IT department (90%) will be the biggest beneficiary, they also foresee research and development (85%), and the business operations department (85%) driving significant value from AI.

Generative AI – a type of AI that can create new content and ideas quickly, including conversations, stories, images, videos, music and more – has captured the attention of the general public in the past year, and this technology is already transforming workplaces in Hong Kong.

Notably, 94% of surveyed employers and 91% of surveyed workers expect to use generative AI tools on the job within the next five years, with 62% of employers highlighting automating repetitive tasks as the top benefit, followed by increasing innovation and creativity (60%) and improving outcomes (56%).

Workers in the financial services sector (71%), which remains one of the city’s most important economic pillars and accounts for around one-fourth of the city’s GDP, are the most positive about the impact of AI on their careers and organizations, compared with the manufacturing (69%), information and communications technology (65%), and wholesale and retail trade sectors (57%).

A total of 91% financial service respondents currently use AI tools, and 94% expect to by 2028. Workers in the sector are well-positioned to reap the benefits of AI, the report notes, with 81% saying they are “intermediate” or “advanced” in AI fluency.

Bridging skills gap

A total of 80% of Hong Kong workers indicated an interest in developing AI skills to accelerate their careers, and this interest transcends generations and genders.

While around seven in 10 Gen Z (71%), millennials (73%) and Gen X (70%) workers want to acquire AI skills, close to half (48%) of baby boomers a demographic usually contemplating retirement say they would enrol in an AI upskilling course if it was offered. Meanwhile, male (81%) and female (79%) employees indicated interest in advancing their careers by learning AI skills.

However, there is a looming AI skills gap, according to the report, that must be bridged to ensure the city is well-positioned to unlock the full productivity benefits of AI. Hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for 70% of employers in Hong Kong, of which 73% find it challenging to find the AI talent they need.

Of the surveyed employers, 76% say they lack the knowledge to implement an AI workforce training programme. They also lack the financial resources to provide employees with AI training (70%) and the time for employees to pursue AI training outside of core work responsibilities (69%). In addition, 65% of employees cited a lack of knowledge of the AI skills training programmes available as a top barrier.

“The rise of generative AI presents an unparalleled opportunity for Hong Kong businesses to drive innovation, enhance productivity and stay ahead of the curve,” points out Robert Wang, AWS’ managing director for Hong Kong and Taiwan. “However, nurturing an AI-skilled workforce is essential to unlocking the full potential of these technologies.”

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