Hong Kong faces brain drain as educated people plan to move abroad

In a speech that was delayed in order for her to consult the Communist Party in Beijing, Lam said her aim was to restore confidence following another tumultuous year | PHOTO: REUTERS

Hong Kong could witness a brain drain in the next five years after a new survey revealed that a quarter of university-educated people under the age of 35 were planning to leave the city to work elsewhere, amid easing of immigration schemes by foreign countries in response to the imposition of the national security law here.

The study conducted by Youth Ideas, one of the city's biggest youth organisations, also showed that some 16 per cent of those who wanted to leave the city for work said they had no intention of ever coming back, while another 12.6 per cent said they would only consider returning after getting a foreign nationality, reported SCMP.

This comes at a time when some foreign countries, including Canada and the UK, are easing their immigration schemes for Hongkongers in response to the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing, which some say will curb the rights and freedoms of residents.

The survey, "Tackling Hong Kong's Brain Drain", found that 24.2 per cent of respondents said they had plans to get a job outside Hong Kong in the next five years, with top destinations being Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and the US.

Major reasons for choosing to work elsewhere included 'work-life balance', 'emigration plan' and 'social and political stability. Of those polled, 15.8 per cent said they had no plans to return to Hong Kong, while another 12.6 per cent said they might consider returning after getting permanent residency overseas or securing a foreign nationality.

Asked what would make them consider returning or staying to work here, the top three factors cited were 'attractive pay', 'better protection of personal freedoms' and 'satisfactory development opportunities'.

Meanwhile, Amy Yuen Siu-man, the federation's researcher, urged the government to act to stop a potential brain drain.

"Our trade offices outside Hong Kong should keep in closer contact with Hongkongers working there and encourage them to return to work in Hong Kong... The government can also consider offering subsidies to those who are willing to return to work here, especially those who have finished their studies overseas," she said.

She also urged local companies to change their corporate cultures to accommodate remote working.

China imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong last year. The law criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1. Since then, a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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