Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a place that attracts and fosters talent has dropped in an international ranking. Hong Kong fell from 12th place last year to 18th, according to a global study by Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development.

This fall is attributed in part to concerns over public investment in education, according to the study.

Hong Kong fell behind regional rival Singapore, which maintained its position from last year, at 13th place. Taiwan occupies 27th position, with China lagging at 39th place.

Photo: Screenshot.

Switzerland came up top in the study, with Denmark and Norway following in second and third place respectively.

“[Hong Kong]’s gradual decline is worrying for the future, especially considering that it lags behind in terms of public investments in education,” the World Talent Ranking 2018 reads.

The report measured the ranking using three criteria: Its investment in and development of home-grown talent; the extent to which a country attracts overseas talent; and the availability of skills and competencies in the talent pool. Hong Kong’s position dropped in all three of these areas.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the Global Talent Carnival in April 2018. Photo: GovHK.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday that she was not too concerned about the drop in ranking.

“I have yet to find out the so-called cut-off date for the information [used] as the basis of the ranking,” she said. “It might capture the situation a year ago, so it would not have reflected the extensive investment we have made in education in this term of the government.”

Lam said her government had invested HK$8.3 billion of recurrent expenditure covering preschool, primary, secondary to tertiary education services, increasing education expenditure by around ten per cent.

“Spending in education is the best investment that the government can make, because it would nurture talents to meet the needs of the economy in future,” she said. “We will have to review the existing arrangements to achieve a quality education.”

Photo: Screenshot.

Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam, who represents the business sector, said he believed the government’s new infrastructure plans, including the large-scale reclamation plan Lantau Tomorrow Vision, will attract talent to Hong Kong.

“We have to do more on improving immigration policy, tax, and even international schools and leisure facilities,” he said. “We don’t just hope to attract foreigners to stay for a year or two. It’s best for them to stay long – the Hong Kong government will have to work more on the overall package.”

Kris Cheng

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.