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Hong Kong graduates face falling job prospects, salaries

Ms. Chloe Hui is looking worried with only a few weeks left on campus.

Grasping a few of resumes, she went booth to booth at a job fair, trying to talk to any interviewer who would give her a few minutes.

She is an English major at Chinese University of Hong Kong and she has been applying for a job since December month. She indeed had some interviews, but don’t have a job letter yet.

“It’s much more difficult than I thought,” she told Channel

Ms. Hui is the first person to go to university like many graduates in Hong Kong. That was a great pride for her parents and family but, she is now forced to look for job that does not necessarily require a higher degree.

“Like for HR assistants, they don’t really need university graduates but I am still applying for it,” she said. “I don’t have many choices I think.”

Mr Benjamin Lam who was graduated from the prestigious Hong Kong University three years ago with a degree in Risk Management. But ever since he is forced to do a series of odd jobs.

“Sometimes I feel discouraged,” Mr Lam said. “I think I can support myself, but I can’t see any good prospect for a luxury life.”

New Forum did a study and according to that starting salary has been decreased by 20 percent I Hong Kong between 1993 and 2013. If graduates want to buy an apartment it feels more difficult.

“I feel bad for the young people these days,” said Mr Edward Chen, a Council member at Hong Kong University. “In the old days it’s a straight forward path. If you were a university graduate, you were guaranteed a place in the middle class. But today, no.”

DIMMING ECONOMIC PROSPECTS

A series of social strife have took place in Hong Kong in recent years. The peaceful Umbrella Movement was led by university students in 2014, which shut down the city center for months. Earlier in this year, a riot broke out in Mongkok where young protestors did hurled bricks at police and set cars on fire.

These events has been chained to Hong Kong’s lack of progress towards democracy. Educators like Mr. Chen say “dimming economic prospects for the city’s youths may also be a key reason.”

“We have a large group of frustrated young people, university graduates many of them. It’s very easy to persuade them that society is not doing justice to them, and to some extent it might be true.”

Economic inertia has weighed down developed economies around the globe. But in Hong Kong their problems are going worse and some experts believe that it is due to misguiding government policies.

Hong Kong’s economy is facing hard time with the SARS outbreak in 2003 after Dotcom crash in 2001. The unemployment rate has been increased with 8 percent which is pressurizing to government of Tung Chee-Hwa, who is the city’s first chief executive.

Government has been boosting university enrollment rate from 20 percent to 60 percent so that the flow of young people entering workforce can be reduced.

To slow the pace of young people entering the workforce, the government boosted university enrolment rate from 20 per cent to 60 per cent. But unlike a previous round of expansion, the additional slots did not come from the established, taxpayer-funded universities. Instead, a crop of new private schools filled the gap.

Without government funding and unable to charge higher tuitions, Mr Chen said “these universities have not been able to match the quality of the city’s eight publicly-funded schools.”

“First there are just too many university graduates. Secondly, a large number of the students cannot meet employers’ expectations.”

LOOK BEYOND HONG KONG?

Many multinational companies in Hong Kong has been hiring Chinese graduates because they can speak good Mandarin and they also have a lot in common with them.

Some people say that youth should look further beyond Hong Kong for jobs, facing new reality.

President of Hong Kong Shanghai Youth AssociationMr. Paul Mak, has been trying to get local graduates to work in Shanghai, but that has not proved easy.

“A lot of Hong Kong young people don’t consider that especially when it’s their first jobs,” he said.

The usual barrier is salaries. The starting salary in China is still lower even though Mr. Mak said “promotions happen faster there, so the pay would eventually catch up.”

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