Youth I.D.E.A.S. 47
Employment and Economics Development
Enriching the Experiences of Working Youth through Overseas Exposures
31 September, 2019
Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city that bridges east and west. It is also an international trade and financial centre. According to the Census and Statistics Department, 9,040 businesses with overseas parent companies are located here and employ 493,000 people. These businesses cover major industries such as trade, wholesale, retail, finance, and professional and business services. Staff with overseas experience are needed for the daily operation of these businesses as well as for their future overseas expansion.
How Hong Kong can maintain its competitiveness in the world of international business and expand both its major and emerging overseas markets is an issue worth exploring. Training up talent with international experience and significant understanding of overseas markets is an important condition for creating business opportunities for enterprises.
In fact, some Hong Kong working youth are interested in obtaining overseas working experience so as to deepen their understanding of overseas markets and cultures. Apart from internal transfers and self-sought employment, young people may obtain such experience through the Working Holiday Scheme and overseas internship schemes. Over the past five years, 44,371 working holiday visas have been offered to Hong Kong young people, indicating that the Working Holiday Scheme is the main channel through which they seek such experience.
Though the Working Holiday Scheme is generally considered useful in broadening horizons and enriching experience, some employers may think that it is only helpful in accumulating working experience for low-skilled jobs. Some employers also think that participants only focus on the holiday aspect and not on the work aspect, so it may not be helpful in seeking employment afterwards. Besides, internship schemes organised by the government and NGOs mainly offer short-term internships for students, so working youths are unable to benefit. In addition, the nature of such schemes mainly focuses on enriching learning experience and broadening horizons. The accumulation of practical working experience and improvement of employability is limited.
In view of this, this study aims to look at the international experience which could improve the competitiveness and employability of young people from the perspectives of both enterprises and young people. Firstly, it tries to understand the attitudes of young people towards obtaining overseas working experience, as well as the demand for them to do so, through an on-site youth survey. Secondly, it tries to understand the effect of overseas employment experience in enhancing competitiveness through in-depth interviews with youth. Thirdly, it tries to understand the attitudes of enterprises towards talent obtaining overseas employment experience and the usefulness of such experience. By synthesising these analyses and information, it is hoped that concrete recommendations can be made for enriching the overseas employment experience of young people in order to enhance overall talent quality.
This study uses data collected by three methods during the period from August to September 2019: an on-site survey of 520 young people aged 18-34, case interviews with 20 working youth aged 18-34, and interviews with four experts and related parties.
 Census & Statistics Department. (2019). ‘Numbers of overseas and Mainland companies and start-ups in Hong Kong continue to grow.’ Press Release of 16 October, 2019.
 Source: Labour Department