Hong Kong Trade Development Council predicts that the toy market in Mainland China will grow by 40 per cent annually in the future and that sales volumes will exceed RMB100 billion by 2010.
"Toys are the largest export trade after garments especially to the US and European markets," Edmond So, general manager of Besteam Personnel Consultancy says. "Looking back over recent years, we have seen plastic toys, remote cars and digital pet Tamagochi, then educational toys. From the 90s' onwards, toys are no longer just for children but a great pastime for 'toy fever' adults too."
According to Mr So, a passion for toys is a prerequisite to be in the industry but it is also important to be able to predict and have insights on local and global trends. Being innovative is essential since toy manufacturing is an upbeat and dynamic industry. Those with a related academic background, qualifications or experience would certainly stand a better chance of developing a career.
Mr So says, "There are two factors when we talk about the competitive edge in the toy industry and it is the same for fresh graduates. One is an academic background and the other is hands-on experience." For toy designers, engineers and quality control and quality assurance persons, it would be a definite advantage if they hold mechanical or electronic engineering qualifications.
"Experience is just as important since the company can save the money and time spent on training the employees and they can just start working straight away," he adds.
Those wishing to break into the industry should be willing to be stationed in China or travel there since most of the toy manufacturing work is done on the mainland. QA or QC professionals, likewise, may need to station in China while engineers may need to spend half their time there.
Mr So believes that there is a general shortage of talent in middle management because the demand for professionals with relevant knowledge and job experience is high. "There are more job offerings nowadays and the turnover rate is higher than five years ago. The toy market is growing and is expected to expand further over the coming years," he says.
In terms of salary, due to increased demands in the toy sector, Mr So sees a five to eight per cent raise in the industry overall, compared to three to four per cent in the market generally.
On the job
Toy designers are mainly responsible for designing OEMs and open items, which are based on imitations of figures or models depending on the clients' requirements (such as accessories for fastfood chains). Project engineers or managers are in charge of coordinating the manufacturing procedures and processes, while QA or QC professionals are needed to check and test the end products to see if they meet the standards, and to ensure for example that the toys are suitable for children, before they go into bulk production.
Mr So says, "Hong Kong is a bridge for facilitating business between overseas customers and factories in China. Hong Kong is the agent for the world factory — China. And there are a lot more opportunities in the industry for those who are keen on developing their love for toys into real life careers."
- The toys industry is booming and further growth is predicted
- Job opportunities are there for those with academic qualifications
- Engineers, designers and QA/QC professionals are in demand
A chance to be based in China or to travel to mainland production
- Increased job demands are creating increased salary levels