Date
20 October 2018
As Hong Kong needs more tech talents, the government should seek ways to retain the best and the brightest among mainland students who pursue higher education in the city. Photo: Xinhua
As Hong Kong needs more tech talents, the government should seek ways to retain the best and the brightest among mainland students who pursue higher education in the city. Photo: Xinhua

HK must do more to fend off competition from China for talents

As Beijing prepares to implement the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development plan, nine mainland cities that fall under the area — Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing — as well as Kong Kong and Macau are all gearing up for stiff competition for top-notch tech talent.

However, it appears Hong Kong has started joining the latest round of fierce competition for the best and the brightest on the back foot.

It is because even though the HKSAR government has recently launched the Technology Talent Admission Scheme, which will aim to process work visas as quickly as possible, the program has been dwarfed by those put forward by mainland cities in terms of funding as well as the variety of benefits offered.

For example, both Guangzhou and Shenzhen have launched ambitious programs to draw foreign science and engineering talents and nurture homegrown elites.

In 2016 alone, Shenzhen drew a total of 10,509 overseas graduates, and over the years it has attracted a total of over 70,000 overseas graduates to work in the city.

In the meantime, Zhuhai announced in April this year that it is going to spend over 2.5 billion yuan annually over the next five years to draw talents with different expertise.

In particular, Zhuhai has offered to provide top-notch talent with either a six-million-yuan housing allowance or a 200-square-meter flat. For those who go for the second option, they will be given ownership of their flats after they have continued to work full-time in the city for eight years.

When it comes to housing benefits, Shenzhen also has a lot to offer to mainland talents who have graduated from universities in Hong Kong.

For instance, since the end of 2016, its government has been providing mainland graduates who have obtained a bachelor’s degree from universities in Hong Kong a one-off rental and living allowance of 15,000 yuan. For those with a master’s degree, the allowance is 25,000 yuan, and for those with a PhD the benefit goes up to 30,000 yuan.

It is said that the scheme has proven highly successful, and has prompted a lot of mainland students who are studying in universities in Hong Kong to apply for Shenzhen residency in order to be in a position to secure the juicy benefits and also to advance their careers in the southern Chinese city.

In comparison, all that the Hong Kong government is focusing on is how to shorten the time related to work visa procedures.

Authorities have failed to address the more fundamental issue of skyrocketing housing costs and the high cost of kick-starting a business in the city, shortcomings that are prompting many mainland students pursuing postgraduate studies here to return to the mainland after completion of studies.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 12

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal contributor

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