Youth must understand traditional virtues of diligence and thrift
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.