A biennial survey shows slightly more university students would like to work in China - although the numbers of those who do remains low due to greater competition from other expats.
Hong Kong Human Resources Exchange Centre interviewed 500 university students over the past two months on the telephone.
It found 65 per cent of them have worked in China as a full time employees or interns, and would like to seek more opportunities in future. This was five percentage points higher than a similar study conducted in 2011.
The results coincide with a bigger enthusiasm in job fairs offering openings in China. One such fair organised on Saturday featuring Zhejiang province received 450 applications for internships - up from 290 last year.
Despite of students’ increasing willingness, government statistics show the number of Hong Kong residents who had worked in China decreasing from 244,000 in 2004 to 175,100 in 2010.
Only about 20 graduates of the University of Hong Kong work in China every year, Perry Suen Pang, executive director of the centre, said.
“Mainland enterprises now have a wider exposure to human resources in various regions and have higher expectations from employees. When Hong Kong graduates show no improvement in quality, fewer are chosen by employers,” he said.
Entrepreneurs told him Hong Kong workers were good at pointing out flaws in other people’s proposals, but failed to come up with constructive solutions. In comparison, those from Taiwan excelled in both criticisms and suggestions.
“Those from Singapore just do what they are told, and mainlanders seldom speak up in meetings,” he said.
According to the survey, those who have worked in China tend to be more open-minded about future job opportunities.
Unsafe work environments, differences in working models and separation with family members were major reasons cited by those not wanting to work in China.
Melanie Chan, a 20-year-old Chinese University student who attended the job fair on Saturday, wants to work in China.
“Working across the border in the first three years [after graduation] would broaden me. Being familiar with conditions in China is an advantage at work,” she said.