Youth must un­der­stand tra­di­tional virtues of dili­gence and thrift

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HKCOMMENT - EDDY LI The author is the vice-pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong.

The sum­mer hol­i­day is com­ing to an end, and this is about time that most grad­u­ates, both from col­leges and high schools, should have de­cided whether or not to pur­sue fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion. Many have cho­sen to en­ter the “univer­sity of so­ci­ety”, be­com­ing fresh blood in the la­bor mar­ket.

Given that Hong Kong is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a la­bor short­age, it won’t be too hard for young peo­ple to find a job. This is so much more grat­i­fy­ing than the sit­u­a­tion in Europe. Ac­cord­ing to the “Global Em­ploy­ment Trends 2013” re­port re­leased by the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the un­em­ploy­ment rate for peo­ple un­der 24 rose glob­ally from 11.7 per­cent in 2008 to 12.4 per­cent in 2012, and the num­ber will con­tinue to in­crease. In­flu­enced by the eu­ro­zone cri­sis, the youth un­em­ploy­ment rate in EU coun­tries in May reached 23.8 per­cent, among which the num­bers in Greece and Spain even ex­ceeded 50 per­cent — i.e., more than half of the young work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion in th­ese two coun­tries is out of work.

Com­pared to the se­vere un­em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion, Hong Kong is lucky to have a youth un­em­ploy­ment rate which dropped from 15.2 per­cent in 2009 to 8 per­cent in the first half of this year. Al­though this num­ber is still higher than the lat­est gen­eral un­em­ploy­ment rate of 3.3 per­cent, the main rea­sons lie in the high turnover rate, long job-seek­ing time and part-time in­cli­na­tion of the young peo­ple, in­stead of not be­ing able to find one. Hong Kong out­shines oth­ers in this sec­tion, which shows the vig­or­ous­ness of the lo­cal la­bor mar­ket, and it should also be at­trib­uted to the sup­port of the SAR govern­ment, which has achieved re­sults in pro­mot­ing the work­ing skills of young peo­ple and en­cour­aged com­pa­nies to em­ploy them for ap­pro­pri­ate po­si­tions, by pro­vid­ing a se­ries of pub­lic ser­vices for youth em­ploy­ment, in­clud­ing pre-em­ploy­ment train­ing cour­ses, work­place at­tach­ment train­ing, on-the-job train­ing, spe­cial em­ploy­ment projects and ca­reers ad­vi­sory ser­vices.

Not long ago, an ad­ver­tise­ment was placed in a lo­cal news­pa­per, con­demn­ing the main­land stu­dents for com­ing to Hong Kong and de­priv­ing lo­cal stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity of en­ter­ing univer­sity or find­ing a job. Ac­tu­ally, in this era of the global vil­lage, ed­u­ca­tion is ba­si­cally with­out bor­ders, so it’s com­mon to see Hong Kong stu­dents be­ing ed­u­cated in for­eign coun­tries and choos­ing to work there if they find them­selves adapted to the coun­try. Statis­tics show that in other places in the world, the youth un­em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion is much more se­ri­ous than that of Hong Kong, leav­ing no mo­ti­va­tion for this kind of con­dem­na­tion.

We should note that Hong Kong is an open city with limited nat­u­ral re­sources, so the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment re­lies mainly on our busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and tal­ents. If main­land stu­dents are will­ing to stay and work for the city, on one hand it re­lieves the se­vere la­bor short­age, and helps build up a more pro­found tal­ent re­source on the other.

Take Sin­ga­pore for in­stance, which, in or­der to at­tract for­eign stu­dents for ed­u­ca­tion to avoid a brain drain, has suc­ces­sively put for­ward a wealth of poli­cies to en­cour­age th­ese stu­dents to stay in the coun­try and start a ca­reer. Com­pared to how great the im­por­tance Sin­ga­pore at­taches to for­eign tal­ents, it is some­how sad to see some Hong Kong peo­ple adopt a hos­tile at­ti­tude to­wards main­land stu­dents.

While job op­por­tu­ni­ties are abun­dant, the fi­nanc­ing abil­ity of young peo­ple is quite trou­bling. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search by the Univer­sity of Hong Kong, one in ev­ery seven young peo­ple in Hong Kong ex­hausts their earn­ings ev­ery month with­out any sav­ings (the so-called “Moon­light clan”). In the more than 3 mil­lion work­ing pop­u­la­tion, there are about 500,000 young peo­ple. That is to say, there are about 70,000 em­ployed youths who keep this bad habit of ex­pen­di­ture.

The rea­son for join­ing the “Moon­light clan” army might spring from limited in­come and high rental, but I be­lieve most of th­ese peo­ple have no money left ev­ery month be­cause of ar­bi­trari­ness of spend­ing. The re­search also in­di­cates that only 30 per­cent of the re­spon­dents are ac­cus­tomed to save money reg­u­larly and that one of ev­ery three in­ter­vie­wees has brought at least one thing that’s never been used. This re­flects the thought that “sav­ings be­fore con­sump­tion” is miss­ing among the youth, lead­ing to point­less spend­ing.

I hope young peo­ple in Hong Kong can un­der­stand the tra­di­tional virtues of dili­gence and thrift.

Eddy Li

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