Hong Kong's university graduates must seek opportunities beyond city's shores

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 12:57am

Hong Kong is a land of opportunities, so it is said. There is always a chance for success for those who are daring and capable. It is not unusual to see rich and famous people coming from a humble background. Social mobility has arguably never been much of an issue.

That is until recent years; more youngsters now complain about what they perceive as a lack of opportunities to move up the social ladder. From career advancement to home ownership, they say there are more obstacles now than before.

If some recent studies are true, they seem to lend support to such claims. According to one by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the percentage of fresh university graduates getting jobs as managers, administrators and professionals has dropped from 82.5 per cent in 2001 to 73.4 per cent in 2011. More degree holders have taken clerical jobs, which traditionally only require secondary school education, up from 11 per cent to 18.2 per cent. Separately, another study conducted by New Forum showed salaries for fresh graduates had decreased by 20 per cent over the past two decades. The news is hardly uplifting for graduates.

The perceived problems with upward mobility are probably due to the expansion in tertiary education. Unlike decades ago, when there were only two universities, there are currently 19 institutes awarding degrees. The number of students enrolled in courses subsidised by the University Grants Council has increased by 30 per cent over the past 15 years. The proportion of the population with a first degree or above has doubled to 21 per cent. With more graduates competing for high-end jobs than before, career advancement is inevitably affected.

That makes adaptation and self-enhancement all the more important. In the age of globalisation, talent flows to where there is opportunity. Job seekers should not just confine themselves to the tried and tested formula. Like expatriates seeking out new horizons in foreign lands, Hongkongers should not hesitate to venture out should the opportunity arise.