Why it's necessary to invest more in our youth

December 12, 2014 19:23
Middle and lower level workers in Hong Kong are suffering as their salaries are hardly keeping pace with inflation. Photo: HKEJ

If college graduates don't get enough opportunities to move up the ranks and reach the top-tier of the workforce, they will have to brace for a lifetime of struggle, a group of academics wrote in the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Unless one climbs the ladder to a senior managerial or highly-professional position, workers will not see their salaries improve much even if they put in many years in the job and accumulate more experience, they wrote in a commentary piece published Friday.

Some people may be able to get a decent title after working for several years but their paychecks may not see much gain, after taking inflation into account, unless they fall in the top bracket at their firms, they wrote.

Middle-class youth would discover the harsh truth that their income will never catch up with soaring inflation and property prices.

Under such circumstances, many young people may feel hopeless about their chances of climbing the social ladder no matter how hard they work or study. Despite all their efforts, the people will find that they have little hope of owning an apartment.

For the youngsters, even getting married may prove to be a hurdle, said the article which was penned jointly by Chow Siu-lun, a PhD student at the Social Work and Social Administration Department of Hong Kong University; Paul Yip Siu-fai, professor in the same department; and Fu King-wa, assistant professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at HKU.

Although it's unclear whether the dilemma facing young people now has something to do with their passion for the ongoing social movement, there is no doubt that the youth are living in a totally different career environment from that of their parents. Hard work may not necessarily lead to success.

Some have been encouraging young people to pursue further education and work harder in their jobs, and that life will naturally turn better. However, statistics tell us the reality is not so.

Therefore, the government has to carefully study the key issues standing in the way of young people.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has encouraged the youth to look beyond Hong Kong and explore opportunities in mainland. The Qianhai special economic zone in Shenzhen, for instance, welcomes young graduates from Hong Kong to build their future there.

Nevertheless, the talents that Qianhai is keen to attract are mostly top-tier professionals or senior managers, who are also in great demand in Hong Kong, the article noted.

The critical thing now is improving the income prospects for all employees across different professions. Or the city's income gap may continue to widen.

Young people are the future of our society. Hong Kong should invest more in their education and training, which will pay off in the long term.

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Freelance journalist