Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland have stepped up efforts to help young people develop their careers in the Greater Bay Area. But job-seeking graduates have found the going rough amid stiff competition. Su Zihan reports from Hong Kong.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area projects itself as a magnet for professionals and fresh graduates, particularly those from Hong Kong and Macao seeking greener pastures on the Chinese mainland.
But with more than 10,000 fresh graduates out of work in Hong Kong in the first quarter of this year, and more than 9 million students having graduated from universities on the mainland in 2021 alone, it has been a rough ride for job seekers due to fierce competition.
Lu Singyu, a graduate of the City University of Hong Kong with a master's degree in global business management, said she submitted her resume to a number of companies through the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme over the past few months, but only a handful of replies from prospective employers have come through so far. "After learning about the scheme in January, I had applied for some positions at companies of my choice but received just two or three replies. It wasn't until March that I got the first call to attend an interview," Lu said.
Lu came to Hong Kong in her teens and completed her undergraduate studies at Jinan University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. She had aimed to pursue a career on the mainland as she found it hard to get an ideal job in Hong Kong following the outbreak of the pandemic. Eventually, she was hired by Yuzhou Group, a Hong Kong-listed property developer, as an assistant human resources officer and started working across the border.
The Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme, launched by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in early January, intended to provide 2,000 jobs, of which 700 are reserved for scientific and innovative positions, as a stimulus for youths to develop their careers in the vibrant mainland markets.
To support young Hong Kong residents to relocate and work across the border, the HKSAR government decided to subsidize prospective employers with HK$10,000 ($7,800) a month for every graduate they hire at a monthly salary of no less than HK$18,000 under the program. The Guangdong provincial government has also introduced supportive measures for graduates, with local governments in some cities providing a living allowance of up to 1,000 yuan per month for each employee.
Over 3,000 job vacancies were offered by over 390 enterprises under the program. A recent survey of the participating companies showed they have received more than 18,000 job applications so far. But only 520 preliminary applications for allowances had been received from enterprises by the end of July, the Labour Department told China Daily. The application period was closed on Tuesday, and more applications are expected to be confirmed by the employers.
There is a misconception that young people in Hong Kong hesitate to work in the Greater Bay Area for reasons like the difference in culture and lifestyle between the HKSAR and the mainland. But many Hong Kong youths are keen to seize the opportunities on offer. However, only a small number of them have since been hired, according to Manpower, a human resources company.