List of 11 types of international ‘talent’ unveiled in bid to lure qualified professionals to Hong Kong
Labour and Welfare Bureau says list aims to draw talent who can support the city’s development as a ‘high value-added and diversified economy’
Hong Kong on Tuesday released a list of 11 types of migrants who will get priority to live in the city even if they do not have a job lined up yet, under a scheme to attract highly qualified people.
The list specifies professions in the city’s pillar industries of financial and professional services, such as those in investment management, financial services, law and technology.
But it also includes specialists in waste treatment, naval architects, ship superintendents and those in creative industries such as game design and music.
The Labour and Welfare Bureau said the list was intended to draw talent who could support the city’s development as a “high value-added and diversified economy” and was less about providing manpower for industries where there are labour shortages.
“The talent list highlights specific professions needed most for Hong Kong’s economic development,” a bureau statement said.
The specific professions listed were influenced by the government’s long-term policies and initiatives, including the international maritime industry and waste management, a spokeswoman added.
Talented foreigners can apply to enter Hong Kong through its existing Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, where up to 1,000 people are allowed into the city even if they have not secured employment yet. Effective immediately, those whose professions are on the list will get bonus marks, giving them a boost in the application process.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said: “The [talent list] is one of our major initiatives to enhance our competitive advantages in attracting international talents, creating cluster effects, stimulating the development of local talents and propelling Hong Kong forward.”
In his budget speech earlier this year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the labour department was finalising details of an enhanced talent admission arrangement.
This raised hopes among some economists that labour shortages in key industries such as health and elderly care and construction would be eased, though local professional bodies and trades, such as the medical sector and labour unions, have been reluctant to allow in overseas talent for fear locals will lose out.
In the three months to July, the city’s unemployment rate stood at 2.8 per cent, a two-decade low, while wage growth remained high, pointing to a tight labour market as employers were willing to shell out higher salaries for the right employees.
Managing director of AMAC Human Resources Consultants Alexa Chow Yee-ping said the city needed more people in waste treatment as there was a need for improved environmental protection.
Chow argued that the government should first show its commitment to building up the industries for which it was interested in getting top talent, rather than just saying it would be easier for them to move over.
She said: “If the government has the determination to facilitate the build-up of these industries, it signals to overseas talent that Hong Kong is a top cosmopolitan place and they would be attracted to move here.”
Dean Stallard, managing director for the global recruitment firm Hays, overseeing the Greater Bay Area, that encompasses Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities, said the city’s strong growth was helping to keep the labour market buoyant.
But, he added: “Longer term, the ageing population is likely to start becoming a limiting factor for labour supply.”
Hong Kong has a rapidly ageing population – government forecasts show about 36 per cent of the population will be 65 and above in less than 50 years time – and already, it has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, fertility rates in the world.
The firm said Hong Kong needed talent in data science, privacy lawyers, retail banking managers, those with technical skills in medical and regulatory affairs and in digital transformation.
The 11 most-wanted types of talent
● Experienced waste treatment specialists/engineers
● Experienced management professionals in asset management including but not limited to trust fund management
● Experienced professionals in marine insurance
● Experienced professionals in fintech
● Experienced data scientists and experienced cybersecurity specialists
● Innovation and technology experts in fields such as pharmaceutical and life sciences/biotechnology, data engineering and materials science/nanotechnology
● Naval architects
● Marine engineers and superintendents of ships
● Creative industries professionals in music, digital entertainment, game production and film
● Dispute resolution professionals