My Take

Young people need the right skills to ensure Hong Kong's future

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 1:09am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 1:09am

Young people are experiencing downward mobility in Hong Kong. We have anecdotal evidence as well as many surveys that warn of the problem.

That may or may not be a significant factor in politicising the city's youth. But whatever the case, we should worry because it's basically about Hong Kong's future.

Two new surveys add to the worry. One by Chinese University researchers finds that fewer fresh university graduates land in so-called middle-class jobs than a decade ago. These jobs are described as managers, administrators and professionals. Only 73.4 per cent of graduates secure such jobs today, compared to 82.5 per cent more than a decade ago. Instead, more degree holders, 18.2 per cent, find jobs as office clerks, compared to 11 per cent a decade ago - positions that usually require only a secondary school education.

Meanwhile, a second survey finds that Hong Kong is the third most difficult place in the world to find skilled employees. The study of more than 41,000 employers worldwide shows 65 per cent of Hong Kong bosses say they are having difficulty filling job vacancies because of talent shortages, up 9 per cent compared with 2014.

This survey may be viewed with some scepticism as it considers as skilled workers sales representatives, who are the most in short supply in Hong Kong, followed by engineers and IT professionals. Still other surveys with a more precise definition of technical skills have found similar results. What is clear is that Hong Kong's economy faces a serious mismatch of skills in the supply and demand of young local talent.

It also points to a shortage of training alternatives such as vocational schools that help develop specific skills like computer coding. Such problems have been worsening since the 1997 handover. Just imagine: businesses find it hard to fill value-added jobs; universities and schools are turning out students without the right skill sets; young people find it hard to find jobs that fit their talents and expectations.

These are serious problems that our government, politicians and political parties, regardless of their ideologies, must work together to address. Otherwise, we are hanging our children out to dry.