Hong Kong students studying in the mainland have difficulty finding job opportunities, both on the mainland and in Hong Kong, a survey by a think tank has found.

The One Country Two Systems Youth Forum conducted the survey in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with several mainland universities. It received 1,154 responses from an online questionnaire between May and October, and also conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews with more than 100 Hongkongers.

The results showed that 29 per cent of the interviewees wished to stay in the mainland after graduation, while 45 per cent wished to work or continue their studies in Hong Kong.

mainland university
A mainland university exhibition in Hong Kong. File Photo: GovHK.

Hong Kong students in the mainland face disadvantages, the survey results said. Around 40 per cent said they believed they lacked connections, 35 per cent said they were rejected for jobs because of their Hong Kong status, and 30 per cent said they were not allowed to join mainland civil service exams.

They also faced difficulties if they chose to come back to Hong Kong; 70 per cent said Hong Kong employers were not familiar with or did not recognise mainland academic qualifications, and 60 per cent said they lacked internship experience in Hong Kong.

Equal opportunities

Henry Ho, convener of the Forum, said students who studied law and education faced more difficulties as there were different qualifications for these fields in the mainland and in Hong Kong.

Ho is a member of the semi-official Beijing think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and a former political assistant to the Secretary for Development.

The survey also found that 75 per cent of the Hong Kong professionals and entrepreneurs in the mainland interviewed believed that the mainland employment certificate system – which Hong Kong people require to work – should be scrapped.

Henry Ho One Country Two System Youth Forum
Henry Ho (front row, fifth from right) at the launching ceremony of the One Country Two System Youth Forum. File Photo: GovHK.

Ho said the Hong Kong government had a responsibility to help the 500,000 students and professionals in the mainland.

“They should have the same number of opportunities as mainland people,” he said.

Ho said the Hong Kong government office in Beijing could do more than liaising with Hong Kong people, and providing information and emergency help when needed.

He suggested that the mainland government could issue temporary resident cards to Hong Kong people to make it more convenient to live or do business in the mainland.

“[The Hong Kong office in Beijing] could have raised this issue long time ago, but it seemingly didn’t,” he said.

“Our country’s embassies and consulates in foreign countries are very active in seeking business and opportunities for people. Hong Kong has opened a lot of offices [in the mainland], and I heard from friends in Beijing that they have improved, but it seems that their functions and roles did not change much compared to 20 years ago.”

The Forum was formed after Chief Executive Carrie Lam was chosen as the Hong Kong leader, as a platform for Hong Kong and mainland youths to discuss issues under One Country, Two Systems.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.