Activate the future: Advice on youth development

Underpinned by thepicture of national development, Hong Kong is anticipating a brighter future in the coming years. Among others, the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) indicates clear support for Hong Kong’s development into an international innovation and technology center, better integration into the overall development of the country as well as deepening co-operation between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

In his speech at the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, President Xi Jinping urged us to promote the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, calling for efforts to synergize economic rules and mechanisms in the three regions as well as encouraging wider exchanges and deeper integration among young people in those regions to strengthen their sense of belonging to the motherland.

Last month, the central government held a meeting on talent strategy, once again marking the Great Bay Area as one of the key platforms to nurture and gather more people of great talent for the purpose of supporting the country’s development and national rejuvenation drive.

At a moment of deep integration, the Chief Executive’s policy address will be a crucial step for Hong Kong to place itself in this national blueprint, leverage on its existing strengths and strive to serve the country’s needs.

While the 14th Five-Year Plan has pressed forward on some key areas, encouraging Hong Kong’s young generations to pursue further education, innovation, career, and life opportunities inthe Greater Bay Area cities, the 2021 Policy Address should pair and elevate more supportive measures as priority items.

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Based on counsel from our stakeholders in various sectors, the Y.Elites Association announced its suggestions on the said policy address in September. Proposals related to youth development featured prominently in our 26 advisory clues, such as housing problem solutions, business startup nurturing schemes, a talent-friendly environment etc.

Indeed, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Regiongovernment has already set up the Great Bay Area Youth Employment scheme and funding program for startups. However, we suggest that the government, working with major business associations, provide multiechelon assistance regarding policy clarification, fundraising, industry connections and incubation services for Hong Kong youth who wish to explore more opportunities in the Chinese mainland.

We suggest that the government, working with major business associations, provide multiechelon assistance regarding policy clarification, fundraising, industry connections and incubation services for Hong Kong youth who wish to explore more opportunities in the Chinese mainland

Similarly, the government is also advised to introduce its IT Innovation Lab plan into all schools, encourage all educational institutions to join the STEM-intern program for the purpose of building up a sustainable innovation talent pool. We also hope that the government can consider further diversifying employment opportunities by recognizing more professional qualifications.

Another important issue for Hong Kong will be to maintain its attractiveness to international talent. The government can press for working visa reform, lower the qualifications for employment visa applications along with providing an extra one-year extension for those graduates from the top 100 universities in the QS rankings.It is also suggested that the government develop more professional qualifications converting tests, enabling global talent of broader basis to open their careers in Hong Kong.

We believe talent exchange is a two-way street. To enhance Hong Kong’s next-generation competitiveness also calls for the government’s effort to support vocational education, and to provide career-planning guidance at an earlier stage.

Placing young generations in the vortex of housing problems, as has been the situation for decades, is destructive if Hong Kong is to achieve sustainable development and the government must pledge to leave no stone unturned in tackling this social problem.

We suggest that the government leverage on New Territory North development by accelerating the planning, conversion, and construction process, and strive to fulfill public housing needs in the next 10 years. Moreover, it should consider that, apart from elderly people over 60 years old, adding younger generations to the Home Ownership Scheme.

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Our proposed Policy Address suggestions are undoubtedly ambitious but will reap huge benefits. Hong Kong’s interests are inextricably tied to national development and with support from the motherland, Hong Kong can better compete in the global arena.

Besides on this advice, the Y.Elites Association in Hong Kong will continue to promote Hong Kong’s youth exchange and provide more assistance from our over 1,000 members who are leadersin business and professional fields, with the common objective of improving our understanding of the Chinese mainland and finding collaboration opportunities.

We also believe that by setting up more platforms and channels for youths, more talent will be gathered to build a more prosperous Hong Kong SAR as well as a stronger country.

The author is chairman of the Y.Elites Association, a national committee member of the All-China Youth Federation and a member of the Zhongshan Committee of CPPCC.