Manpower requirements in information technology are expected to expand faster than in other industries over the next few years. The latest government study of projections up until 2007 shows demand in IT leading other strategic areas of the local economy, with average annual growth forecast at 6.1 per cent. This puts it ahead of tourism at 5.9 per cent, professional services at 3.7 per cent, financial services with 2.7 per cent, and trading and logistics at 0.9 per cent.
The study predicts that the number of IT jobs will jump from 63,100 in 2001 to 85,000 in 2007. The trend towards hiring professionals with better qualifications and proven skills will continue. In view of this, the Hong Kong Baptist University recently introduced a Master of Science in Information Technology Management course to teach greater technical competence and prepare people for managerial responsibility.
"Since IT is rapidly changing, the programme will keep students up to date and broaden their knowledge of the field," explains course director Dr Leung Yiu Wing.
One of the features is that professors of IT as well as business will teach the programme. In addition, highly qualified industry professionals will be invited to conduct short courses in order to provide practical insights and give wider exposure to real-life examples.
"Many universities focus on either IT or management, but we will focus on IT management," says Dr Leung. "The syllabus will include subjects like the relevant laws and how to draft contracts for outsourcing projects. Students will learn about both the technological and managerial sides, enabling them to handle value-added work such as systems design or project management."
He says many companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, are in the process of establishing IT departments to cut operation costs and increase efficiency. "The need for IT systems affects a wide range of services. Nowadays, even small little things like ferry schedules to Lamma Island can be found from a website. For bigger industries, such as banking, trading and logistics, IT systems are needed to store a huge amount of data and facilitate smooth operations. A large corporation like HSBC might recruit hundreds of IT graduates a year to process client information," Dr Leung says.
He points out that demand for professionals has exceeded supply since the government froze university intakes. Government cutbacks in funding for Master's degree courses also discouraged graduates from pursuing further academic training. However, with better job prospects now appearing, many individuals are prepared to pay their own course fees to obtain better qualifications.
The MSc course is suitable for those who are working in the IT field and looking to acquire the most up-to-date IT methodologies for their professional development. Those who did not major in IT but wish to break into the IT profession or apply IT in their own professions may also find the course useful.