• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
NewsHong Kong

Most mainlanders only want to work in Hong Kong short-term, survey finds

Think tank suggests retaining young mainland workers would ease labour shortage - but most say that Hong Kong is ideal only for a brief stay

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 6:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 4:41pm

Most mainland postgraduate students and migrant workers in Hong Kong consider the city an ideal place for a short-term career, but few want to stay for the long term.

This has emerged from a study commissioned by the think tank Hong Kong Ideas Centre, which said retaining mainland students and professionals would be a good way of easing the labour shortage.

In the study, conducted by consultancy Actrium Solutions last month, 500 mainlanders who had worked or studied in Hong Kong for less than seven years - and who therefore did not have right of abode - were questioned.

Almost three-quarters said they found Hong Kong an ideal place to work for a short time, while 28 per cent said they saw good long-term career prospects in the city and 39 per cent planned to return to the mainland eventually.

The centre's executive director, Anna Lai Wong Oi-ling, said the findings showed that Hong Kong was still an attractive place for mainland professionals.

"If the base does not change and 28 per cent of these mainland students and workers really stay here for the long-term, it is already good for our development," she said.

Those who did not choose Hong Kong or the mainland named other parts of the world, with the most popular being the United States, Canada and Europe. Tiny percentages of these chose Taiwan or Japan and 1 per cent chose Singapore.

The questionnaire did not specify the length of time for long and short-term stays.

A snowball sampling method was adopted, with an initial group of respondents drawn from a contact list held by the company and more respondents referred by them. All interviews were conducted face-to-face.

Despite conflict over social issues between mainlanders and Hongkongers in recent years, less than a fifth said they felt discriminated against. The biggest problems they reported were poor housing (73 per cent), a language barrier (58 per cent) and lack of friends (39 per cent).

In a consultation paper released last month on ways to boost the labour force, the government suggested upgrading the existing labour import system, among other measures.

The think tank said retaining mainland students and professionals was a good way to relieve the problem. The survey also found 45 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the government's existing policies on attracting mainland talent.

In view of this, Lai said she did not see the need for a major policy change, but she said the government could provide more support for mainlanders, such as co-organising Cantonese courses to help them integrate better.

She also suggested more publicity for immigration arrangements for non-local graduates.


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This article is now closed to comments

Hong Kong is an ideal stepping stone for those who are aiming to immigrate elsewhere. It is a frank negative critique really. Hong Kong can’t compete to retain them of whom this interview has targeted.
Temporary as it may, Hong Kong still must despite of a ‘better’ income than laborers housing also must be provided. Unless, you think they all live in a hotel while waiting to immigrate.
Frankly I find this timely survey is a subterfuge in calming us and telling us that mainlanders are only to be in Hong Kong temporary and they all live in hotel.
I wonder how Anna Lai finds that an increased number of Mainlanders settling in Hong Kong would be good for our development. I have completed two post graduate programs at local universities both of which had a significant number of mainlanders. During post grad programs students are expected to contribute their ideas and experience during lectures and seminars. I've only come across 2 students from the mainland who did so without specifically being called upon. The vast majority are very passive making no contribution whatsoever. In addition to being passive, many of these same students are critical of Hong Kong people and media for our lack of acceptance of communist rule. Of course they criticize us mostly amongst their friends only a few would dare to do so openly.
I have also worked with a number of the mainlanders who have stayed on in Hong Kong. In the work place I have found that the mainland immigrants generally have little to offer. Some are very controversial, as they have strong opinions about differences in ideology and culture which they force on us. There are a number of mainland immigrants who teach in Hong Kong that use their classroom to preach and impose their opinions on their captive audience which is an unethical teaching practice.
Hong Kong has its problems but it is nevertheless a world class city. Hong Kong can easily attract immigrants from the four corners of the world. This would be better for the long term development of Hong Kong.
From my experience, working with mainlanders compared to locals have been far more rewarding for me. They try to assimilate themselves into HK society and do not preach their communist beliefs. I work in ibanking. I am a HK local.
Do you have any evidence to support what you said? I have taught at an university in HK where many of my former colleagues are originally from the Mainland and educated abroad. Never did any of them preached communist ideologies to students. Moreover, in terms of research publications, overall, Mainland Chinese colleagues are more productive and are more likely to obtain external research grants. And just one more question. Do you ever leave HK or cross the border? If not, I urge you to get out of your "HK comfort zone" and see how the world has changed.
life here is so stressful here be it fighting for school placements or working in the office.. combined that with such hostile attitude towards them and you wonder why they dont wanna stay here long term :)
That's funny! Short term as in....????
There are many foreigners stays here for more then 40 years, is that short enough??
It is you ppl who portray and make HK become like that so no complain!
I don't see why there should be a concern here. HK has always been an open city where people just come and go. People may want to work a few years here and then move abroad to gain some international work experiences. After that, they may return to HK or the Mainland China.


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