Founder and Managing Director
JC Human Resources Consulting
Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery
Macau ended its zero-Covid policy in December 2022. Economy has been recovering since the reopening of the border for international travellers without the mandatory quarantin policy in early January 2023. The number of tourists visiting Macau has increased significantly and there is an urgent need to re-hire front line operating and service staff particularly in hotels, restaurants and retail stores back to the 2019 level.
Unemployment Rate (Last update: February 2023)
Annual Campus Job Fair / Career Planning Seminars
The annual university job fairs were held in February and March this year. Career Planning Seminars in high schools and universities are also held during this time of the year.
Artificial Intelligence Practical Skill Training for IT Practitioners
Supported by the Macau Labour Affairs Bureau, the Macau GBAHR Association, the Zhuhai Vocational Training Guidance Service Center of the Zhuhai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, and the Shenzhen Artificial Intelligence Industry Association have offered a 10-day practical artificial intelligence skill training for employees working in the information technology field in Macau for free. The 80-hour training course has 30 participants from small IT service providers to mega-size casino resorts in Macau, started in December 2022 and completed in February 2023.
Newly added: 4 confirmed cases as compared to 3 months ago.
Unemployment Rate (Last update: September 2022)
The annual Youth Career Expo was hosted by the Macau Labour Affairs Bureau and co-hosted by the Macao New Chinese Youth Association and the General Association of Chinese Students of Macau on October 8 & 9. The event attracted over 1000 young people and offering 1,100 jobs by 70 participating companies from both Macau and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area in industries such as tourism and leisure, retail, finance, information technology, and mechanical and electrical engineering. Aside from on-site face-to-face interviews, the event also offered seminars, online company sharing and interview skills training, etc.
Career & College Interview Skills Seminar
Co-hosted a career seminar and college interview skills talk to the high school graduates-to-be at a local girl school with a college counsellor at the end of September 2022. Future employment prospects in Macau and in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area were discussed during the seminar.
The 3rd Zhuhai Vocational Skills Competition & The 2022 "Shenhe Cup" Zhuhai-Macao Hengqin Corporate Human Resources Manager Vocational Skills Competition
Organized by the Livelihood Affairs Bureau of The Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, the Zhuhai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, the Zhuhai Federation of Trade Unions, and the National Association of Vocational Education of China in Zhuhai, and co-organized by the Macau Greater Bay Area Human Resources Association, The 3rd Zhuhai Vocational Skills Competition & The 2022 "Shenhe Cup" Zhuhai-Macao Hengqin Corporate Human Resources Manager Vocational Skills Competition was successfully held on September 28, 2022. About 100 HR staff with relevant work experience in the human resources field from 45 companies in Zhuhai, Hengqin and Macau have participated in the HR Employee Category. (There is also a University Student Category for students studying Human Resources Management or Business Administrations.) This is the first time HRMs from these three neigboring locations competing with each other across the China border. This is a historical moment and valuable cultural exchange and experience sharing for human resources practitioners in the region.
The first round of the competition involved a written skill test (multiple choices) and the final round required both a written test (essays) and a Q&A session of practical cases by a judge panel. The questions are related to six functions of human resources management including recruitment, employee relations, compensation & benefits, performance appraisals, staffing planning & organization structure, and training & development. Awards include the Vocational Skill Level Certificates issued by the China government and cash prizes.First & Final Round of the Competition
Award Ceremony in Hengqin
Macau recorded over 2000 Coronavirus Cases since the epidemic began, and reported 6 Coronavirus Deaths. Before June 18, 2022, Macau had managed to keep total cases below 100 for more than two years. Following the national zero-Covid policy, Macau has exercised very straight control. The city had 14 rounds of city-wide nuclei acid tests and a two-week lockdown over the past 6 weeks. This is the second time the world’s largest gambling hub has had to close its casinos due to Covid-19. The gambling business is Macau’s major source of income that can bring in gross revenue of 300 billion patacas (US$37 billion) in a good year. The city’s economy had contracted by 54 per cent in 2020, and it had yet to recover fully before it was disrupted again by this surge of Covid cases. The casinos and all other businesses resume this past Monday, August 1, 2022. https://www.ssm.gov.mo/apps1/PreventCOVID-19/en.aspx#clg22916
Unemployment Rate (Last update: June 2022)
The general unemployment rate was 3.7%. Number of the unemployed increased by 1,100 to 13,900.
The total workforce living in Macao was 378,100. Total employment was 364,200.
The unemployment rate is expected to increase. More people will be laid off as a result of the new casino law that makes satellite casinos impossible to operate. And the recent Covid situation will continue to weaken businesses. Local businesses including the big corporations and SMEs may no longer be able to support their current staffing capacity. Besides, students graduating from the mainland China and overseas will be returning to Macau for their first job hunting in August and September.
Macau Labour Bureau’s Reaction to the Increased Unemployment Rate
Initiated the “Creating Better Job Perspectives for 2022 internship programme” for the fresh graduates – a program started since Covid 19.
Hosted multiple job fairs or job matching events inviting companies from various industries to participate.
Provided Vocational Training Program with Subsidy for the unemployed.
Other programs and subsidies to encourage employers to hire the unemployed.
Organized interview skill training to the unemployed
Suggestions to the government:
1. ‘one-on-one career coaching’ sessions could also be done for the job seekers.
2. Pre-employment training programs targeted for the actual vacant positions (providing skill training for potential job applicants to fill the actual vacancies)
3. Vocational training program with subsidies for skills that are handy for the future economic diversifications mentioned in the previous report.
Nansha Internship Program for Hong Kong and Macau University Students
As part of the initiatives to attract young talents to Nansha District of Guangzhou, a key geographic location in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA in South China), the Guangzhou Nansha District Youth Federation has organized the Nansha Internship Program for the Hong Kong and Macau university students for the third year this summer. The program involves 1000 young talents from Hong Kong and Macau and 100 organizations in Nansha District. They provide work and life experiences, cultural exchanges, social integration activities and career coaching for the young talents with free food, accommodation and transportation. Other follow up programs include study tours, skills enhancement, and pre-employment training camps.
3-D Printing and Drones Training Summer Camp in Zhuhai, China
Sponsored by the Zhuhai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, organized by the Zhuhai Vocational Training Guidance Service Center, and participated by 30 young people in Macau, the 3-Day “3-D Printing and Drones Training” Summer Camp was successfully concluded on May 29. These young people including the students from the universities in Macau went across the border to Zhuhai, China for a 3-day camp to learn about 3-D printing and drones. The organizer first arranged a drone course for the students. Industry experts are invited to give face-to-face lectures, allowing students to learn about the structure and principles of drones, practical demonstrations and experience of drones, and the practical application of drones in various scenarios in today’s society. In the 3D printing course, students learn about the basic principles and processes, and understand the 3D printing application industry and field. The students have the opportunity to practice making their own 3D printing. They also have site visits to the Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Shenzhen Cooperation Zone Planning Exhibition Hall, Youth Entrepreneurship Valley and to well-known enterprises that are producing 3-D printing products and drones. This program plants a seed in the hearts of the young people as they pursue their career in these industries in the future.
Annual Campus Job Fair / Career Talks
Universities in Macau usually end in May or June. They usually organize campus career fairs and host career talks in March and April. There are 10 higher education institutes (including one police school and one nursing school) in Macau and normally only 6 of them have these fairs every year. Due to a sudden surge of cases in the Guangdong province in China and Hong Kong in March, University of Macau and Macau Polytechnic University have moved their fairs to online. High schools are also inviting experts or industry practitioners to deliver career planning talks to their graduating students.
The Hotel Innovation Management Competition
The Macau Greater Bay Area Human Resources Association has successfully completed the Final Round of the Hotel Management Innovation Competition among university students in Macau in March. The competition aims to explore new ways of improvements and innovation for hotels and to allow participating students to leverage their management knowledge to develop bold and creative proposals. Macau, being developed to be a world tourist destination, the competition is of great significance to the city for the nurturing and development of hotel management talents in the tourism industry.
The New Era of the Gambling Industry
With the following changes, the unemployment rate in Macau has surged and will be increased to a historical high within the past 20 years.
Majority of these unemployed or to-be-unemployed are local residents. More jobs have to be created to put them back into the market. However, many of them have to go through re-training before they can start a new job.
The topic of Economic Diversification continues. The current workforce is not ready to cope with the new development and the quick fix is to invite experienced and talented people to Macau to work on the development of the industry and the training of the local workforce. The government is planning on the new regime aiming to attract highly qualified Chinese people who are currently living overseas to live and work in Macau in the following priority areas. The government also wants to invite Nobel Prize winners and Olympic medallists to come.
The Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin
In the last report, the Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin (commonly known as the Hengqin Cooperation Zone) was mentioned. New policies such as incentives aiming to attract Macau residents to work in the Cooperation Zone are on the way.
The gaming industry remains dominant in the economy of Macau. However, many and the government have addressed the danger of excessive and prolonged dependence on the gambling and tourism sector since 10 years ago. The problems and risks associated with the economic structure of Macau have again been revealed in the face of the epidemic crisis.
A year ago, the Chief Executive of the city has suggested the idea of fostering the impetus for the adequate and diversified development of the economy and for the construction of a more diversified industrial structure, thus providing solid foundations for sustainable and long-term development of Macau’s economy.
Scientific and Technological Research and High-end Manufacturing Industry
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Macau brand Industry
Cultural Tourism, Convention and Exhibition and Commercial and Trade Industry
Modern Financial Services Industry (bond market, wealth management, and cross-border Renminbi real time gross settlement system RMB RTGS)
With these developments, more jobs are expected to be created for the citizens and the young people in the city. However, the need of career development in these diversifications for the workforce has become utterly urgent. The quick fix is to invite experienced and talented people from China and other parts of the world to work on the development of the industry and the training of the local workforce.
The Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin
Another problem Macau faces is the scarcity of land. The solution for land lies in taking advantage of the opportunities on the island of Hengqin. Hengqin is an area located in the southern part of Zhuhai city in Guangdong Province, adjacent to Macao, and is also within the scope of the regional integration plan called “The Great Bay Area.”
In September 2021, the Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin (commonly known as the Hengqin Cooperation Zone) was made public. The governments of Macau SAR and Guangdong Province will jointly govern the 106 square kilometers of land comprising Hengqin as part of a plan to deepen cooperation in order to facilitate the economic diversification of Macau. That piece of land is a new space for Macau residents to live and work, a new enriched showcase for implementing “One country, Two Systems” and a new highland for promoting development of the Greater Bay Area. A lot of new policies, laws and regulations, housing projects, education and welfare facilities, etc., will be accelerated to build up the Zone. One of the major changes is that vehicles from Macau can drive freely to that Zone.
Other Career Development Activities in Macau
From November 2021 onwards, the Macau Greater Bay Area Human Resources Association, an association established in Macau since last year, is offering professional trainings in the areas of China employment regulations, human resources management in China, financial planning regulations in China, construction safety inspection in China, etc., to cope with these new economic developments in Macau. They have also organized a National Hotel Management Innovation Competition among the university students in Macau and China together with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the China Commercial Chamber of Commerce, and the Sustainable Business Case Study Competition. These competitions allow students to leverage their management knowledge to design or analyse hotel innovation and sustainable proposals, thus fostering future hoteliers. That Association has also co-organized a Career Coaching Webinar with the Macao Career Development Association in October.
China Employment Law Training Career Coaching Webinar
Hotel Management Innovation Competition Integrated Resort Sustainable Business Case Study
Macao New Chinese Youth Association, General Association of Chinese Students of Macao and Youth Educators Association of Macau released the result of a survey and advocated for deepening career education in school settings.
This survey collected responses of questionnaires from 1338 students and 173 teachers and focus group interviews to teachers in six secondary schools. The results lead to attention and future actions as follows :
- Both quality and quantity of teachers’ training in career education should be improved;
- More professional staff and services should be directly provided to schools;
- Career education should be included in the future youth development policies.
(Resources from Macao Daily, http://www.macaodaily.com/html/2020-01/14/content_1409169.htm)
Macao Career Development Association (MCDA), a young professional association, has been established to promote the professionalization of career planning services in Macao.
Career services have appealed to the Macao government and local non-government organizations for years. School teachers, social workers, and psychological counselors have been spontaneously providing career services and educations in various setting in the last decade. MCDA's goal is to meet the needs of professionalization. The association hopes to accomplish this goal by focusing on two kinds of activities: 1) providing training that combines established international resources and local best practice experiences and 2) facilitating exchanges among local and overseas practitioners.
On September, 23, 2017, MCDA successfully held its first professional development gathering. According to the audience feedback, this event was impressive and satisfying beginning with its key speech and continuing through the many provided interactions. The key speech was delivered by Prof. Hsiu-Lan Shelley Tien, the former president of Asia Pacific Career Development Association. Her speech covered several important topics including challenges of career education in local high schools, referrals of cases, and screening clinical trends behind career issues. A small group of 32 participants from education, industry and social welfare helped deepen the exchange process. As a result of the gathering, many attendees expressed their interests in becoming a member.
MCDA plans to provide more professional trainings and opportunities to exchange ideas in 2018 for its members and well as to local career practitioners.
Entrepreneurship is becoming more and more common as a career option. In Macao where gaming and tourism is the leading industry, the government has implemented various plans to encourage youth entrepreneurship so as to provide more career opportunities to young people as well as to enhance the city's economic diversification. Established in 2013, the government's Young Entrepreneurs Aid Scheme provides an interest-free loan up to MOP300,000 (approx.USD27,500) for Macao residents between the age of 21 to 44 to start their own companies. As their companies grow through the first two years, the business owners can apply for another interest-free loan up to MOP600,000 (approx. USD75,000) from the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Aid Scheme. While the financial support is laudable, the government was criticized for not providing adequate guidance and supervision to the young business owners supported by the Schemes. In 2015, the government established the Youth Entrepreneurship Incubation Center, providing a series of support services to the young entrepreneurs, including training, advising, mentoring, networking, and free co-working space, etc.
Doing business in a small economy like Macao comprises various challenges, including limited land area and resources, small domestic markets and client bases, difficulties in sourcing research and development capacity, and lack of highly skilled personnel and innovative technology (Baldacchino & Fairbairn, 2005). Therefore, it is not surprising that the majority of the subsidized applications in the Young Entrepreneurs Aid Scheme are from Retail and Food & Beverage businesses. To encourage more innovative technology, Macao is taking advantage of the nearby Hengqin Youth Entrepreneurship Valley, which opened in the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone in 2015. The Valley, which aims at cultivating 1,000 creative companies and generating 100 entrepreneurship stars by year 2020, is a platform that provides venture capital investment, incubator, and business services for young people from the Chinese Mainland and Macao to start their Internet Plus ventures in the Pearl River Delta.
Another fertile ground for cultivating entrepreneurs is college campuses. The Macao University of Science and Technology provides entrepreneurial education through its Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Planning. The University of Macao offers rent-free co-op shops for students to run their businesses through the Campus Entrepreneurship Competition, and organizes the Macao Entrepreneurship Competition, where the winners can enter the final competition of the infamous One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Meanwhile, various NGOs such as the Youth Committee of the Macao Chamber of Commerce, Macao Youth Entrepreneur Association, Macao New Chinese Youth Association and Macao Youth Federation are also actively involved in promoting youth entrepreneurship in Macao.
Youth entrepreneurship is certainly catching on in Macao. Various initiatives have been put in place in recent years to help young people start their businesses. Yet entrepreneurship in a small economy is likely to be different from that in a large state. It will be interesting to see the evolution and results of the entrepreneurial efforts in Macao.
Macau has gone through an unprecedented decade of economic growth. Human resource development has become strategically important to sustain our social development. Due to its small size and population, Macau faces a number of challenges.
Similar to other small states and territories, Macau has an ecology of its own. The economy is often characterized by limited diversification and high sensitivity to the changes in the global economy. The decrease of our gaming revenue in the past year due to the slowing economic growth and anti-corruption initiatives in China is an example. In terms of the labor market, small states and territories have the need for the similar specializations as larger ones, but usually cannot produce all these specializations or fully populate them. They usually rely on expatriates to fill the gap in the labor market. For many specialized occupations, in addition, the demand is often not large enough to employ a sizeable pool of highly trained personnel. As a result, specialists frequently find themselves handling both specialist and non-specialist duties, and employees often wear several hats at the same time. Occupational identity takes on a different definition, with the self usually comprised of a smaller "hard core" and a larger "flexible periphery"- a phenomenon known as "multi-functionality" (Sultana, 2006).
This does not mean that specialists are not needed. In fact, the expectation of professionalism is rising in Macau as our economy advances. But given the nature of smallness, the demand for certain specialists can become easily saturated, resulting in redundant talents and people who need transferrable skills to embark on other careers. In addition, specialists often need to give up their specializations and develop the skill-sets of generalists if they want to climb the career ladder (Baldacchino, 1995). Therefore, the interplay of specialization and generalization is a crucial aspect of career development in Macau. "Adaptable specialization" is recommended, which allows youth to cope with the ever-changing social development in Macau.
Career counseling and development for youth is a major focus in the recent Macau Youth Policy 2012-2020. Much effort has been paid in guiding high school students to choose their college majors, so as to help students find their best person-environment fit in their career development. While this effort is admirable, it is insufficient for several reasons. First, students usually have a limited understanding of what the college majors really entail when they make their decisions. It is not uncommon to see students find themselves uncomfortable with their chosen majors after they enter university. They may change their majors, or get through their studies but then embark on a completely different career after they graduate from college. Secondly, certain majors may not directly translate into occupations in Macau, leaving students with a diffused sense of vocational identity. Thirdly, even when the students do choose suitable majors which can turn into available occupations, their careers in the next 40 years are bound to include transitions and changes. Macau youth need to develop career adaptability.
Taken together, there are several implications for youth employment and career development in Macau.