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Temporary jobs a springboard for startups as well



New phone applications have helped thousands of young people in Hong Kong find temporary jobs in the services sector, where labor is always in short supply during the busy seasons. 


Industry sources say at least 130,000 youngsters, many of them school leavers, have opted for temporary employment. In many cases, they can earn as much as that of regular employees doing the same jobs. 


These temporary workers, of course, don't get the same benefits, such as sick leave and paid holidays, as their regular colleagues. But, they don't have to get stuck in their jobs if they hate doing them, or with organizations they can't fit themselves in. The flexibility of temporary employment is an option that's attracting more and more young people. 


This can be a good thing for Hong Kong's services-oriented economy populated by thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises, especially in retail and catering. Hiring temporary workers can be risky because it's hard to ascertain the quality of their work and attitude. But, an expanding pool of young and energetic temporary workers offers employers the opportunity to lower their fixed costs with the flexibility of adjusting the number of workers in response to the sharp swings in seasonal demand. 


In the past, the temporary labor market was largely controlled by "bosses" who had close links with employers in various trades. People looking for temporary jobs had to first "register" with these "bosses" who would assign jobs to them and took a cut from their pay. Such practice remains common in the construction industry. 


But, the proliferation of temporary job sites on the internet has brought about a sea of change in the marketplace. A growing number of employers in the services sector are depending on these sites to recruit temporary workers to meet increased seasonal demand, especially during the Lunar New Year holidays. 


Temporary employment also offers an opportunity for school leavers to get a taste of working in different industries. Such an experience would better enable them to find out what they really want to do in future. 


It's not uncommon for some young people to apply what they've learned in temporary jobs when starting their own businesses. For instance, a group of young women who met each other while they were temporarily employed at a cleaning service agency has banded together to form a thriving house cleaning business. 


They've proved that successful startups don't necessarily have to be in high tech. 


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