Digital workers boost Hong Kong’s GDP by US$47.5 billion

Employees with basic through to advanced digital skill levels in Hong Kong increases the city’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by US$47.5 billion, according to new research from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Those who use advanced digital skills – including cloud architecture or software development – contribute an estimated $5.4 billion to Hong Kong’s GDP, accounting for the 58% higher salaries that these employees earn compared to those with a similar education who do not use digital skills at work.

Commissioned by AWS and conducted by Gallup, the study covered more than 300 employers in Hong Kong from a variety of public and private sector organisations and industries. 

The study classifies basic digital skills as the ability to use email, word processors, other office productivity software, and social media. Intermediate digital skills include drag-and-drop website design, troubleshooting applications, and data analysis. 

Advanced digital skills include cloud architecture or maintenance, software or application development, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.

The study found that half of employees in Hong Kong who use advanced digital skills express higher job satisfaction, compared to 26% with intermediate skills and 36% with basic digital skills.

Similarly, employers that rely heavily on advanced digitally-skilled employees, digital technology, and cloud technology reap higher business growth and innovation. 

Findings show that 65% of digitally advanced organisations in Hong Kong introduced new, innovative products in the last two years, compared to 51% of their less digital counterparts. 

Also, 57% of Hong Kong organisations that run most of their business on the cloud report steady annual revenue growth of 10% or more, compared to 30% of those that use the cloud for some of its business. 

The study also shows that companies in Hong Kong running most of their business on the cloud boast innovation rates 35 percentage points higher than companies that use the cloud for some of its business or do not use it at all (84% vs. 49%).

Further, 58% of employers in Hong Kong say at least one of several technologies — including AI, edge and quantum computing, blockchain, and cryptocurrency —  is likely to become a standard part of their future business operations, with 5G and AI ranking the highest at 36% and 28%.

“As more organisations move their IT to the cloud over the next decade and new technologies emerge, digitisation is going to fuel a vast number of new jobs,” said Gallup principal economist Jonathan Rothwell.

In Hong Kong, 77% of employers surveyed reported they were seeking to fill openings that require digital skills, but 72% said it is challenging to find the talent they need. 

A possible barrier is that 31% of Hong Kong firms prefer a bachelor’s degree, even for entry-level IT staff. 

However, 69% of employers say that digital certifications or training courses are acceptable substitutes for a bachelor’s degree.

To help employees develop their digital skills, PCCW Global has worked with AWS to help its employees develop digital skills with AWS Skills Guild and Digital Innovation Program. 

The company has leveraged AWS Skills Guild to create an enablement program called Cityverse, which has trained hundreds of employees, and will also facilitate colleagues seeking AWS certification in 2023.