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What Hong Kong could do to address the growing talent crisis

What Hong Kong could do to address the growing talent crisis


Initiatives such as easing the travel & quarantine restrictions as well as tax holidays on income for eligible expatriates may help the HKSAR in stemming the departure of expats, Lingnan University suggests.

The pandemic, departure of expats, immigration of Hong Kong residents, the ageing population as well as low birth rate all contribute to the amplification of the talent crisis in Hong Kong, making it harder for businesses to hire locally.

In light of that, Lingnan University has released a study, outlining what talent strategies and specific plans Hong Kong could put in place to maintain and strengthen the city's advantages of talent competitiveness.

The report suggested that policymakers could establish different talent development game plans regarding the period of time that talents may stay in Hong Kong.

According to the report, sources of talent fall into three categories:

  • Local & non-local fresh graduates in Hong Kong,
  • Professionals, Mainland talents, and technology talents coming to Hong Kong through various admission schemes,
  • Expatriates.

Here are the suggestions to strengthen the attractiveness of Hong Kong to those talents:

For local recent university graduates:

  • Create and expand job opportunities in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
  • Continue and expand the job assistance scheme to GBA.
  • Support them with other approaches such as housing allowances/subsidies, career pathway development, tax incentive, and so forth.

For non-local recent university graduates:

  • Government may consider increasing the scholarship opportunities and relaxing the restrictions on working for non-local students to attract them to study in Hong Kong.
  • Continue the ease of application for the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) visa and consider the extension of the validity period of the IANG visa (the number of IANG visa applicants is around 9,000 every year) for the sake of attracting non-local students to stay and work in Hong Kong after graduating.
  • Policymakers could consider revising the immigration policies and shortening the residency requirement from seven years to four years for becoming permanent residents of HKSAR.
  • Initiate a tuition grant scheme similar to Singapore that waives a certain amount of tuition fees in exchange for a fixed duration of work in Hong Kong.
  • Collaborate with different enterprises in Hong Kong and provide internship or work opportunities for non-local fresh graduates.

For professionals, Mainland talents, and technology talents:

  • In the short term, easing the travel and quarantine restrictions could mitigate the burden on the flow of talents.
  • Increase the input on research and development (R&D) and other infrastructure and create more relevant occupations to attract as well as retain talents with a technology background.
  • Financial support or tax incentives for those who come to Hong Kong to start businesses in key industries.
  • Increase government funding to encourage the knowledge transfer of academic research.
  • Policymakers could consider assisting these talents with job searching in both Hong Kong and the GBA.
  • Other than the IANG scheme, policymakers could consider the continuation and expansion of the General Employment Policy (GEP) and Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS).

For expatriates:

  • Policymakers could design and implement tax holidays on income for eligible expatriates who work in key industries or technologies.
  • Spouse career development support such as financing part of the tuition to attend recognised programmes.
  • Strengthen education support for expatriates' children, government could reconsider continuing to subsidise the English Schools Foundation (ESF) to ensure the quality international education for expats' children.

"In summary, Hong Kong's existing talent plans are not adequate to help it get a breakthrough in building the talent pipeline," concluded the research team. "Policymakers should contemplate more innovative and proactive initiatives to attract and retain both long- and short-term talents for Hong Kong."

Image / Shutterstock

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