Salary expectations dip for Hong Kong university students

Report cites 'less certain economic environment, high-profile layoffs'

Salary expectations dip for Hong Kong university students

The salary expectations of Hong Kong’s university students have dipped slightly, according to a new report.

Their expected annual salary declined to HKD292.9k (HKD24.4k a month), down three per cent from the previous HKD303.0k (HKD25.2k per month), according to Universum's survey of 4,179 Hong Kong university students.

"This suggests that students are likely aware of the shift away from the Great Resignation period and into a less certain economic environment where high-profile layoffs are more common, and hence are more prudent in their salary expectations," Universum said in its media release.

The gender gap on expected annual salary also widens to nine per cent, according to the report. Men are expecting an annual salary of HKD320.7k, while women are only expecting HKD293.4k annum.

"This indicates that while talent are aware of the tougher economic conditions compared to a year ago, the drop of confidence is slightly higher among females," the report said.

Despite the higher gap, however, the report noted that pay expectation disparity this year remains relatively lower than previous years, where the gap has been within double-digit range.

Most sought-after employers

With these factors considered, Universum found students of business and commerce consider the following as their most ideal employers:

  • J.P. Morgan
  • HSBC
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Google
  • HKSAR Government
  • Apple
  • PwC
  • Deloitte
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Hang Seng Bank

For engineer or natural science students, their most ideal employers include:

  • HKSAR Government
  • Google
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • J.P. Morgan
  • MTR Corporation
  • Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute
  • Airport Authority Hong Kong
  • Arup
  • AECOM 

‘Friendly work important’ valued by students

As for workplace priorities for university students, their top 10 preferences this year include:

  • A friendly work environment
  • Professional training and development
  • Encouraging work-life balance
  • High future earnings
  • Flexible working conditions
  • Good reference for future career
  • Clear path for advancement
  • Secure employment
  • Competitive base salary
  • Market success

"Right now, we are seeing young talent in Hong Kong prioritising work environment and career development over financial earnings and salary, a trend that can be seen in many of the more developed markets worldwide," said Mike Parsons, managing director of APAC for Universum, in a media release.

"Tomorrow's workforce are highly motivated by acknowledgment and growth opportunities that enable them to feel valued and included in their community, with financial compensation often coming second."

Remote work interest dips

Meanwhile, interest in remote work slightly dipped in 2023, but the appeal remains high with nearly three-quarters (73%) of university students saying they are interested in it, found Universu;m.

However, nearly half of the respondents (48%) are concerned that they'll be isolated and miss out on social connection with co-workers due to remote work. Their other concerns include:

  • My employer may have a bias for in-person employees (41%)
  • My earning potential will be less if I work remotely (39%)
  • I'll be left out of important meetings and initiatives at work (34%)
  • I'll overextend myself and won't maintain the work-life balance I want for myself (31%)
  • Onboarding into an organisation remotely will not be effective (30%)
  • My internet connection will not be adequate (15%)

These findings come as employers across Hong Kong struggle from a talent crunch, with the government tapping overseas talent to fill in the gaps.

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