When the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme – known as GBAYES – was launched on 8 January, a number of Chamber members said they would participate and many more expressed their interest in the programme.
To ensure members are aware of the details, we organized a webinar with Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung and several of his colleagues on 14 January, to discuss the details and to give members the opportunity to ask questions.
Cheung expressed his thanks to HKGCC for supporting GBAYES, particularly to the companies that had already said they would sign up..
“Your member enterprises have set a truly remarkable example in the business sector to provide golden career opportunities for our fresh university graduates,” he said.
“Through encouraging enterprises to provide employment opportunities and station graduates to work in GBA Mainland cities, we want to help our fresh graduates to set clear career goals, understand the GBA more deeply and seize the unique opportunities of GBA development.”
Charles Hui, Assistant Commissioner for Labour (Employment Services), said the scheme would help young people access the GBA opportunities while also addressing the youth unemployment issue in Hong Kong. Subsidies of HK$10,000 will be available on monthly salaries of at least HK$18,000, and the scheme will run for 18 months.
Hui explained that graduates must be Hong Kong residents and that those who attended overseas universities are also eligible. It is open to people graduating between 2019 and 2021, and there is no age limit. Graduates must be stationed in the Mainland but will come under Hong Kong labour laws.
“These graduates will be engaged under Hong Kong law,” he said. “Tax and social security contributions will be the same as for any other employee engaged by the enterprise in Hong Kong and working on the Mainland.”
This is why GBAYES is currently open only to companies that already have operations in both Hong Kong and the Mainland, Hui added, as they already have experience dealing with cross-border employment terms.
In the Q&A session, Hui clarified a number of other issues. For example, a company will not have to repay the subsidy if the graduate quits. They can hire another graduate, but this will be counted as a fresh application. Hui added that companies will be screened to ensure that they qualify, and then places will be available on a first come, first served basis.
One of the first Chamber members to express interest in the scheme was Towngas, which already has more than 270 business projects in the Mainland, including the GBA.
“With our diverse businesses in the Mainland, we offer a wide range of roles for young graduates,” Kit Fan, Head of HR at Towngas, explained. “Graduates from different streams of engineering, business, IT, energy and more are welcome to join us and support our operations in city-gas engineering, new energy, smart energy solutions customer services, sales and marketing, data analytics and e-commerce.”
Towngas is committed to helping the younger generation develop their potential, she said, and the GBAYES scheme will give them practical experience. At the same time, the scheme also facilitates the company’s expansion plans. Graduates who do well on the scheme will have a good chance to become full-time employees, Fan added.
The Greater Bay Area Business School is a natural match for GBAYES. As Professor Andrew Chan explained, nourishing the region’s youth to become future leaders is part of the school’s mission, and this scheme enables them to recruit more Hong Kong talent for I&T projects.
“We plan to hire graduates as research assistants – under the supervision of a Professor in Information Systems – who will carry out consultancy and research projects in data science and digital transformation. Such projects will be carried out in conjunction with our strategic technology partners in Hong Kong and the GBA.”
Besides learning about technology and entrepreneurship, the graduates will also experience the latest Chinese culture and broaden their horizons, Professor Chan added.
“The benefits for young Hong Kong people of working in the GBA – particularly in our school – include understanding the prime importance of the GBA development, and establishing a global perspective – beyond Hong Kong and the GBA.”
Darren Cartlidge from architecture and design firm Benoy noted that the GBA provides great opportunities for Hong Kong businesses, particularly now as we move towards the post-epidemic period.
“The GBA is at the cutting edge of China’s shift from the legacy industrial export model to the new high-tech, consumer driven, service-oriented economy,” he said. “It is also the engine of growth for the region, and where our clients are most active. Given these facts, we want to be where our clients are to be able to better meet their needs.”
Benoy is actively seeking innovative graduate talent across a spectrum of roles, including architectural assistants, as it plans for growth in the region.
Success Grand Environmental is also seeking graduates to help the company expand its environmental protection services and market development in the GBA. It aims to develop environmental protection and recycling technologies in the GBA, as well as bring such innovative technologies back to Hong Kong. These are areas where graduates can play a role in helping the business grow and innovate.
“We will take this opportunity to increase the recruitment of young people to participate in our business in the Greater Bay Area, which will help to inject some new momentum and new thinking into the business,” said Gary Fong, General Manager at Success Grand Environmental.
Oscar Chow, HKGCC Vice-Chairman, said that the announcement by the SAR Government of GBAYES was very timely.
“It is clear that the GBA presents tremendous business opportunities in the coming years,” Chow said. He noted that while many Hong Kong companies were already active in the region, for others, the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered the need to explore new markets.
The scheme will also help the city’s young people to develop their careers by making the step into the GBA, particularly given the softer employment sentiment in Hong Kong, he added.
Chow is Non-Executive Director at Chevalier International Holdings, which is also planning to offer places under GBAYES, initially in business development and corporate administration posts. Chevalier International has been a relatively late mover in terms of building presence in the GBA, Chow said.
“We would like to take advantage of this scheme to accelerate our entry into the market, while at the same time contributing to Hong Kong society by providing good career prospects to Hong Kong youths in the GBA.”
HKGCC Member Companies
Many Chamber members have offered to support the scheme, including:
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited
Chevalier International Holdings Ltd
John Swire & Sons (HK) Ltd
CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd
Newpower International (Holdings) Co Ltd
Jardine Matheson Ltd
Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd
Ernst & Young
Alipay Payment Services (HK) Ltd
Sino Land Company Limited
NEC Hong Kong Ltd
The Hong Kong & China Gas Company Limited
UMP Healthcare Holdings Ltd
NWS Holdings Ltd
Toppan Merrill Ltd
Star Lite (HK) Ltd
Ho & Partners Architects Engineers & Development Consultants Ltd
Citibank N A Hong Kong
Leadsky International Enterprise Ltd
Censpot Trading Corporation Ltd
Schneider Electric (Hong Kong) Ltd
Gateway Group Ltd
Mitsubishi Corporation (HK) Ltd
SGS Hong Kong Ltd
Greater Bay Business School Ltd
Wong & Cheng Consulting Engineers Ltd
Value Partners Group Ltd
Success Grand Environmental Ltd
Pacific Tiger Group Ltd
Boncafé (Hong Kong) Ltd
(As of 29 January 2021)