Youth I.D.E.A.S. 62


Navigating Career Opportunities for Young People

1 August, 2021


The employment situation of Hong Kong’s young people has been drawing public attention. It is worth looking at how young people’s employment opportunities can be opened up so that their career development choices can be broadened in order to cope with future economic development trends.


Hong Kong is an important financial centre and commercial hub in the world, attracting enterprises of different capital backgrounds. Among them, enterprises from mainland China have been gradually increasing since the 1980s. In recent years, investments from mainland China have grown vigorously and become a significant stakeholder in Hong Kong’s economy.


According to the survey of the Census and Statistics Department, the number of enterprises in Hong Kong with parent companies in mainland China jumped from 805 in 2011 to 1,986 in 2020. The proportion of the total by country represented also increased during that period, from 11.6% to 22.0%[1], surpassing Japanese and American enterprises and becoming the highest of all countries in the business community. According to the figures of The Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association, as of the end of 2017, the number of mainland Chinese enterprises in Hong Kong was estimated to be at least 4,300, with assets of approximately HK$11 trillion and 90,000 employees[2]. At present, these enterprises cover various industries such as large-scale banking, finance, insurance, shipping, petroleum and petrochemical, telecommunications, construction, aviation, steel, tourism, transportation, information technology, and legal, among others. It has brought many job opportunities.


Hiring in mainland Chinese enterprises is more aggressive, even in the midst of the pandemic, since they are still expanding. However, compared with other enterprises, more mainland Chinese enterprises employ part-time or temporary staff since they fail to attract enough qualified full-time staff[3]. In addition, although mainland Chinese enterprises are willing to pay higher salaries in order to attract or retain staff, they still face challenges in hiring in Hong Kong due to unsuitable cultural fit[4].


Many mainland Chinese enterprises are interested in recruiting Hong Kong youths because the latter have international perspectives and strong teamwork skills, as well as good language ability, professionalism, and reliability.[5] But Hong Kong youths are observed to have a lack of understanding and trust in the mainland,[6] resulting in a gap between job supply and demand. If the current situation continues, it will bring unnecessary limitations and obstacles to their career choices.


In view of the above, this study aims to broaden career choices and opportunities for young people in Hong Kong by exploring the factors contributing to the above gap and giving constructive opinions.


Through an on-site youth survey, this study seeks to understand the employment attitudes of working youths and their views on corporate culture. It tries to understand the work experience of young people who have worked or are working in mainland Chinese enterprises in Hong Kong through in-depth interviews, as well as their views on career development and opportunities, and their feelings and expectations regarding corporate culture. Furthermore, it tries to understand mainland Chinese enterprises’ demand for Hong Kong staff, the remunerations and development opportunities they can offer, their staffs’ adaptation to corporate culture, and the strengths and weaknesses of young employees in Hong Kong. By synthesising this information, this study will make suitable analyses and recommendations.


This study uses data collected through three methods during the period from May to June 2021: an on-site survey of 520 working youths aged 18-34, case interviews with 20 young people who have worked or are working in mainland Chinese enterprises in Hong Kong, and interviews with five experts.



  1. Mainland Chinese enterprises have become more prevalent in the past ten years and have become a significant part of Hong Kong’s economic system. The proportion of enterprises in Hong Kong with parent companies in mainland China has increased from 11.6% to 22.0%, and these enterprises are estimated to employ at least 90,000 people. Due to their expansion trend, they have specific manpower demands, and especial desire young Hong Kong employees, thereby creating career development opportunities for young people in Hong Kong.
  2. Young respondents mainly consider salary and prospects in job hunting. Although 70% think that capital background is not an important factor, only a small proportion prefer mainland Chinese enterprises. In addition, respondents generally do not have an in-depth understanding of such enterprises and are not sure about the employment and development opportunities involved.
  3. In addition to the sound business and job stability, the remunerations offered by mainland Chinese enterprises are competitive. Therefore, more than half of the respondents are willing to work there. Moreover, they can provide a broad range of work experience as well as more mainland-related clients and opportunities which could attract youths pursuing career development opportunities.
  4. Young interviewees generally think that both the long-term promotion opportunities and the training mechanisms in mainland Chinese enterprises are poor, which discourages them from staying in these companies.
  5. Young interviewees think that mainland Chinese enterprises are relatively less transparent and more focused on bureaucracy and procedure. They also think that these enterprises are not good enough in areas such as valuing staff opinions, providing room for creativity, work autonomy, and corporate image. They worry that adapting to this kind of corporate culture would be problematic and therefore may not be willing to join these companies.
  6. Mainland Chinese enterprises may consider improving staff communication and setting up concrete training mechanisms if they hope to attract and retain talents who can communicate between China and the West and to take up more social responsibility. Young employees could also choose enterprises that suit them with an open attitude.



  1. Hong Kong young people should enhance their strengths in areas such as international perspectives and cultural knowledge of China and the West in order to maintain their unique competitiveness.
  2. Hong Kong young people who wish to explore different career development opportunities should find ways to understand the background and culture of different enterprises.
  3. Mainland Chinese enterprises could improve their talent-training mechanisms and consider trainee programmes with job rotation.
  4. Mainland Chinese enterprises could strengthen their corporate image in order to improve their public stereotypes.
  5. Enterprises could improve flexible work arrangements and set up mechanisms for staff feedback collection and response.





[1] Census and Statistics Department. (2015). Report on 2015 annual survey of companies in Hong Kong representing parent companies located outside Hong Kong. Hong Kong: C & SD; Census and Statistics Department. (2020). Report on 2020 annual survey of companies in Hong Kong with parent companies located outside Hong Kong. Hong Kong. Hong Kong: C & SD

[2] China Legal Service (H.K.) Ltd. “Hong Kong Chinese enterprises commercial mediation service.” Retrieved April 15, 2021 from

[3] JobsDB. (2021). Hiring, compensation and benefits report 2021. Hong Kong: JobsDB.

[4] Michael Page. (2021). “China’s new wave hits Hong Kong.” Retrieved April 13, 2021 from

[5] Xin Hua Net. (October 30, 2019). “A large number of jobs provided by mainland Chinese enterprises in Hong Kong. Hong Kong youth hope to realize ambition in the mainland.” Retrieved April 29, 2021 from

[6] Wen Wei Po. (May 5, 2020). “Recommendations to the present employment difficulties in Hong Kong and the national identity of the younger generation.” Retrieved April 29, 2021 from