The cities they are most interested to work in are Shenzhen (52.5%), followed by Guangzhou (19.4%).
Hong Kong's youngsters are keenly seeking careers in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and the three sectors they are most interested in include:
- Cultural and creative (17.9%),
- Financial services (17.6%),
- Technology and innovation (17.2%).
These are among the key findings of a survey by HSBC and Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) Youth Research Centre, titled The Competitiveness of Hong Kong’s Young People in the Greater Bay Area, which sought views of 720 local university students who have shown an interest in developing their careers in the Mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
What's most attractive to these youth are the career prospects (84.1%), market size (84.0%), social networks (70.7%) and training opportunities (70.4%) in the GBA. Meanwhile, the cities they are most interested to work in are Shenzhen (52.5%), followed by Guangzhou (19.4%).
Skills required for GBA employability
Respondents were asked to assess their own skills against a framework of five key skills to boost employability in the GBA. On average, students display the greatest confidence in their professional ethics (8.38 out of 10), Putonghua skills (8.04), and flexibility and adaptability to change (7.78), while ranking digital literacy the lowest (6.17).
An overwhelming majority of respondents (79.7%) agree that "the outlook for a business startup in the GBA is positive", with 90.1% acknowledging that scholarship and seed funding are helpful to their career development in other GBA cities. However, challenges remain, with 70.9% of respondents believing that young people in Hong Kong are unaware of the opportunities springing up in the GBA. Participants cite their key challenges as being a lack of networks in Mainland China; competition from Mainland talent; and an inadequate understanding of the Mainland judicial system.
When asked how young people could best embrace the opportunities in the GBA, the following ideas were shared:
- 63.9% of respondents are willing to join GBA-based work experience programmes or internships.
- Respondents also highlight a desire to understand industry outlooks (51.4%),
- Another two in five (41.3%) are willing to participate in activities, workshops or knowledge exchange programmes about the GBA.
Views of 16 GBA experts, scholars and employers were also sought for this study. Collectively, they believe that the comparatively strong English language skills of young people in Hong Kong, coupled with their global vision, could improve the service quality of Mainland enterprises and help these enterprises open doors to international markets.
However, competition for jobs is intense in the GBA and Hong Kong is not the only source of talent for employers. To increase their employment prospects, Hong Kong youth will have to improve their professional skills, and develop a good understanding of the GBA’s planning, policies and industry prospects. The expert group suggest that young people interested in working in other GBA cities should target the industries and cities that best suit them. They should also treat the experience of working in the Mainland as a step in their career development, using the GBA experience to enrich their resumes and advance their career pathways.
Daniel Chan, Head of Greater Bay Area, HSBC, noted that since the GBA development framework was announced in 2017, economic policies and infrastructure projects have brought closer cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. He added: "At present, there are more than 85,100 residents from Hong Kong and Macao that have registered for employment in Guangdong. If Hong Kong is to reap the full benefit, it is vital that our next generation gains first-hand understanding of the whole GBA economy’s breadth and depth."
In response to the study, Angela Ngai Mei-mui, Deputy Executive Director of the HKFYG, suggested companies to open up more opportunities for internships and consider job rotations between the GBA cities to increase their competitiveness. She also recommended building online learning platforms to cover the skillsets and personality traits essential for employment in the GBA. In the long run, these courses should be mutually recognised by Hong Kong and the Mainland to ensure quality control and encourage participation.
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