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Asia's IT talent quest

Carol Ko | Aug. 14, 2008
It is expected that Greater China will still be the contest stage for IT talents in the next decade.

The usual next best thing refers to replacing things that are considered second best. According to Bill Gates, however, it could refer to breathtaking science and technologies which generally require 10 years to conceive in any laboratory.

On August 12, 2008, Gates presented a keynote address in Microsoft Research Asia, 10th Anniversary Innovation Forum in Hong Kong, and unveiled Microsofts next best thing natural user interface a synthesised, software-driven fashion of Internet surfing which turn TV sets, mobile phones, and personal computers into Internet displays.

Gates said: I would say that is the next thing thats coming that people under-estimate, what we broadly call natural user interface to encompass all the new interaction techniques:  the touch, the speech, the vision.

From drawing to tapping talents

The Silicone Valley has, since the early twentieth century, been IT professionals earthly paradise. It has drawn top IT gurus such as Hong Kong-born computer animators and Shrek director Raman Hui.

With an astronomical research and development budget of US$7 billion, Microsoft built localised research centres to tap local IT talents in their home countries.

Over the past 10 years, Microsoft Research Asia (MRA), the corporates research lab in Asia, has partnered with more than 100 Asian universities and research institutions in markets such as Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. It has funded more than 450 research projects, hosted more than 2,500 interns, granted more than 200 fellowships, and hosted 600 events in over 10 countries and regions.

Gates said, In fact, its amazing, you know, China and Hong Kong, I think, will represent a very substantial percentage of the innovation thats taking place in these areas in the future. Since 1999, MRA has attracted 95 Hong Kong university students, who took up internships in the regions leading research group.

HK misses banking talents

On the other hand, the Hong Kong banking industry is having a hard time finding the right IT talent.

Michael Leung, Senior Vice President and CIO at China Construction Bank (Asia), had said earlier that it is pretty hard to find people qualified, experienced people, for the FSI.

Apart from the fact that Hong Kong universities do not have specific programmes that cater for the needs of business-IT graduates, he said that year 2008 is especially a hardtime for locating the right IT people, and history could explain it.

Leung said, It is very difficult at this particular point in time to hire people with four to five years experience. You should go back to the history. If you are looking for four to five years of experience, and add another three to four years of college time to it, you are looking for someone in IT some seven or eight years ago. When was that? That was the dot com bubble.


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