Most Hong Kong university students would consider working in China, survey shows

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 3:15pm

Despite a growing cultural rift between Hong Kongers and their mainland counterparts, most local university students would consider working on the mainland, a recent survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Hong Kong United Youth Association-affiliated Student Exchange Network, polled 695 students across the city’s eight universities and found 85 per cent Hong Kong students would consider going to China for “short-term career development” or internships. This represented a two per cent rise from the same study conducted last year.

Though most acknowledged mainland wages would be lower than wages in Hong Kong, most felt that a few years of hands-on experience in China would be beneficial to their careers in the long-run.

“The local employment situation has changed since the financial crisis. I think most young people are open to the option of working in China and don’t mind getting the early exposure nowadays,” said Billy Chan, senior manager at Page Personnel Finance, a Hong Kong-based recruitment consultancy.

“Companies [in Hong Kong] are also increasingly looking for candidates with solid hands-on work and life experience … China and overseas internships are definitely a plus.”

A general consensus among respondents was that most Hong Kong businesses had close relationships with China and that economic prospects there were more optimistic than in Hong Kong. Establishing personal networks and connections in China were also a factor.

"I think the idea of working in China will become increasingly appealing if the economy in Hong Kong continues to underperform," said a year-two business accounting and finance student at the University of Hong Kong, who requested annonymity. She is currently interning at a bank in Guangdong.

"Many of my classmates failed to get the internships they wanted in Hong Kong, so several opted for [work in] the mainland," she said. 

Most respondents however, only wanted to stay for an average of three years before moving back to Hong Kong. Only 15 per cent of respondents said they would "stay more than six years" in China.

According to the survey, most respondents said they expected to make HK$8,000 to HK$10,000 for a job in China, that would otherwise pay HK$10,000 to HK$15,000 in Hong Kong.