Local university students appeared to be lukewarm towards a government subsidy that's aimed at encouraging them to work in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), with some saying they are unsure about their long-term career prospects as well as the social and political environment there.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a HK$430 million "Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme" during her Policy Address on Wednesday, saying the GBA has huge development potential that can provide career opportunities for Hong Kong young people, especially when the SAR's youth unemployment rate stays at a high level.
Sources later gave more details, saying of 2,000 total subsidised positions, 400 will be in the innovation and technology sectors.
Participating firms must have operations both here in Hong Kong and across the border, and IT talent must be paid a minimum of HK$26,000 a month.
The government would pay for HK$18,000 of that, or just under 70 percent.
Eva, a year 3 IT student from the Chinese University, said she finds the salary attractive.
"In Hong Kong, usually fresh graduates of engineering or IT only [get] around HK$18,000... so I think HK$26,000 is a really attractive salary," she said.
But she said she won't join the programme out of political concerns. "In the past year, many youngsters like me like to express our political stance via social media, maybe that will become like a censor for the Chinese government to filter us from entering some big companies or some companies that connect with the government."
She added that she doesn't want to separate with her family and friends in Hong Kong, especially now that a 14-day quarantine period is needed for people to head to the mainland amid the pandemic.
Government sources said the other 1,600 positions can be in other fields, with a minimum monthly salary of HK$18,000, of which HK$10,000 will be subsidised by the SAR administration.
Tsui, a year 3 arts student from University of Hong Kong, said he will consider working in the GBA if he can't find a job here in Hong Kong.
"For my degree, on average a fresh graduate will [get] probably about HK$14,000, so it's relatively attractive,"
But he's worried the well-paying jobs in the GBA won't last after the scheme expires.
"After all, this initiative has its time-frame, and I may wonder that once the time-frame is over, and when the government stops funding those employers, I may lose my job," he said.
He also said he's worried about not being able to access social media across the border.
"Ordinary, normal Hong Kong people, our lives are so stuck with social media, like Facebook, Instagram. I've been to mainland China before, it's quite inconvenient that you cannot browse international sites or social media in mainland. Also our daily communicating softwares like Whatsapp, they are also banned in mainland China."
Lai, a year 3 social science student from the Chinese University, said she's simply reluctant to work across the border.
"I think the government doesn't see the struggles of Hong Kong youngsters nowadays, because we are not just worried about our career prospects, we are also sick of those mainland-Hong Kong integration policies. So I would rather have them directly subsidise the youngsters to work inside the Hong Kong region," she said.
Sources said the scheme will be launched before the end of the year and last three years.
Youngsters lukewarm towards GBA jobs scheme
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