Hiring expectations among Hong Kong's IT&T firms in Q1 2012 remain much the same as that in the previous quarter, said recruitment services firm Hudson recently.

According to the company's latest report, 41% of IT &T companies interviewed said they expect to hire more workers this quarter, compared to 37% in Q4 2011. While 10% of firms reported they expect staff reductions, 49% said they will maintain the same headcount.

"The outlook for vendors remains positive and many companies are recruiting for sales and technical roles," said Mark Carriban, managing director, greater China, Hudson. "Firms working in financial IT are affected by the downturn in the banking sector and many have implemented hiring freezes, though there are still openings for contract positions."

Hudson interviewed more than 500 executives across key business sectors during December 2011. According to the report, 38% of respondents from different sectors said they plant to increase hiring in Q1 2012. The percentage remains the same as that in Q4 2011, but represents a sharp fall from 66% in Q1 2011.

Despite the improvement compared with the last quarter, the IT&T sector has experienced a substantial fall in expectations over the past year, said the firm. "This quarter's figure of 41% is only just over half of the 77% reported in Q1 2011--many employers in this sector focus on financial IT and have been hit hard by banks' decisions not to go ahead with major projects," Carriban noted.

In addition, fewer than two-thirds (64%) of respondents in the IT&T sector expect to make bonus payments this year, a much lower figure than for any other sector, Hudson said.

However this figure already represents a significant increase over the 53% reported in Q1 2011, the firm added. Most bonuses in this industry tend to be paid to technical and solutions delivery professionals, as sales staff already receive commissions as part of their remuneration, Hudson noted.

More than half (51%) of respondents in the IT&T sector say they will either pay no increment or just 5% or less, according to the Hudson report. However, 34% are willing to offer pay rises of more than 10%, the second highest proportion after the Banking & Financial Services sector. Of these, 3% will pay more than 30%, the highest figure for all the sectors surveyed. This suggests that talented IT professionals with sought after skills can still command substantial increases, the firm said.