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Hong Kong economy

Our future depends on making HK Inc attractive to talent

The renewed drive to enrich the city’s workforce with more quality immigrants is a pivotal step for our future development. But whether the city is attractive enough for these people is another matter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 September, 2018, 7:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2018, 2:28pm

The Hong Kong government has recently put out the biggest job advertisement in years. But it is not seeking candidates for key political or civil service vacancies, but to fill the talent gaps in the economy. We are referring to the list of professionals we want, published by the Labour and Welfare Bureau. Ambitious as it is, the renewed drive to enrich the city’s workforce with more quality immigrants is a pivotal step for our future development. But whether the city is attractive enough for these people is another matter.

The 11 types of talents needed includes those in investment management, financial services and technologies. They reflect our economic strengths and new industries being developed by the government. Our door is also open to specialists in waste treatment, naval architects, ship superintendents and experts of game design in creative industries. Foreigners with these skills will get bonus marks when applying for the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme.

List of 11 types of international ‘talent’ unveiled in bid to lure qualified professionals to Hong Kong

The government said the more targeted approach would help support the city’s development as a “high value-added and diversified economy”. But whether we get the right people depends on what is on offer. In the eyes of prospective migrants, the list is similar to a recruitment advertisement placed by a company. But before they actually apply for the “Hong Kong Inc”, they would first consider a wide range of factors like when applying for other jobs.

This is not just about how much money one could earn. In addition to competitive pay packages and low taxes, the working environment, the company’s reputation and development prospects are also important. This includes whether the government would provide adequate institutional support for the relevant industry and enables the talented to develop their potential to the fullest.

The appeal of the HK Inc is even brighter by considering China as the parent company. Nothing is more exciting to aspiring talent than being able to tap the opportunities arising from the world’s second-largest economy. Coming into shape is the “Greater Bay Area”, a state development strategy to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine other Guangdong cities into an economic powerhouse rivalling the San Francisco bay area. The opportunities are enormous.

That said, we cannot pretend we are the world’s most sought-after enterprise with a long list of candidates to pick from. As many regional economies are also competing for talent, the best places get the best people. While we beat others in terms of clean government, freedom and the rule of law, our high property prices, education and pollution leave much to be desired. At stake is our room for growth in an increasingly competitive global economy. Our future hinges on how well we can address these issues to make HK Inc more attractive.