The Innovation and Technology Bureau has launched a new scheme that will bring up to 1,000 tech workers from the mainland and overseas to Hong Kong in its first year.

The admission scheme will run on a pilot basis for three years. The scheme will be first opened to tenants and incubatees of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Cyberport that are engaged in the areas of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, data analytics, financial technologies and material science.

Companies applying for the scheme must demonstrate to the Innovation and Technology Commission that the skills they seek are in short supply or not readily available in Hong Kong. Each successful applicant will be given an admission quota of no more than 100 persons a year.

Nicholas Yang
Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang. File Photo: GovHK.

Asked if the scheme will take away jobs from Hongkongers, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said: “Talent shortage is a global problem. It’s not a Hong Kong-unique problem. So what we are doing is our share of trying to grab on to the so-called needed talents.”

Yang said the scheme will also nurture Hong Kong talent, as applicants must hire a local full-time employee plus two local interns for every three non-local staff admitted.

Asked if the scheme will mainly attract mainland workers, Yang said it was up to the companies whether to apply for mainland workers or overseas workers.

Those admitted under the scheme should have degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from a well-recognised university, such as the top 100 universities in the latest publications of the STEM-related ranking tables of the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings or the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Work experience is not compulsory for those with a master’s or doctoral degree. Those with a bachelor’s degree only should have at least one year of work experience in the relevant technology area.

Hong Kong Science Park
Hong Kong Science Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Permanent Secretary for Innovation and Technology Cheuk Wing-hing said the scheme is different from the Immigration Department’s Quality Migrant Admission Scheme and Supplementary Labour Scheme.

“Our scheme is much more focused,” Cheuk said. “Those two schemes do not attract a lot of technology workers.”

He said successful applicants will be given quotas that they can use in the future, if they cannot fill vacancies in one attempt.

He also said the government will review the scheme in six to nine months and decide whether to expand it.

Not beneficial

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said most technology companies will not benefit from the scheme as they are not located in Science Park or Cyberport.

Charles Mok
Charles Mok. Photo:

“We all realise that there is a continuous global competition for talents, and Hong Kong must respond. But I think Hong Kong must respond in a way such that we also balance the need of upgrading the existing skills of local IT talents,” he said.

He said the industry lacked tech professionals with more than five years of experience, and not graduates from good schools who have little experience.

“They really need to raise the bar of the minimum requirement in this particular scheme,” he said.

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.