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Technology

Hong Kong must enhance its appeal to the talented

For years, Hong Kong has been fretting about the danger of lagging behind in developing innovation and technology. To meet that need, the fast-track talent admission scheme rolled out by the government is long overdue

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 8:13am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 8:13am

Winning the battle for innovation and technology talent in an increasingly competitive global market is not easy. Joining the fray as a late comer makes it even more challenging.

For years, Hong Kong has been fretting about the danger of lagging behind in developing innovation and technology. But when it comes to supporting policy and measures, there appeared to be more words than actions until recent years when more concrete steps have been taken.

The fast-track talent admission scheme rolled out by the government is long overdue. Starting from June, companies at two technology hubs, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park in Sha Tin and the Cyberport in Pok Fu Lam, can apply for quotas to bring in specialists in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies and material science. The process takes about two weeks to complete, followed by another two weeks of processing for individual work permits.

The total intakes are to be capped at 1,000 initially. To help nurture local talent, each firm is required to recruit one new local employee and two interns for every three non-locals admitted.

For too long the city has only narrowly opened the door to outside talent and labour, primarily due to fears in some quarters that local jobs could be snatched away. There is arguably nothing wrong with a local-first mentality.

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But as far as technology and innovation is concerned, we simply do not have enough talent to meet our needs. The new scheme appears to have addressed the sector’s demands without compromising the need to groom local talent.

Having a flexible and efficient admission scheme is one thing. Whether the city is attractive to the best in the field is another. In an increasingly competitive and globalised environment, talented people flow to where they can maximise their potential.

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Apart from offering easy access to our market, good remuneration and career prospects, we also have to compete on institutional support and quality of living. Our slow start in the battle means there is a lot to do to catch up. We should strive to enhance our appeal in all aspects lest we lose out in the global race for talent.