Almost half of the Hongkongers who recently relocated to Britain have remained unemployed, results from an online survey conducted by a Hong Kong immigrant support group showed.

Hongkongers in Britain (HKB) on Monday published findings from a questionnaire they conducted in August, where they asked Hong Kong adults who had moved to the UK in the last 24 months about employment opportunities and obstacles following arrival.

uk british flag consulate
A protester showed her British passport. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

The survey, which collected 609 valid responses, found 46.1 per cent of the respondents were either unemployed or looking for work, while 35.2 per cent were working full-time, part-time or were self-employed.

More than 90 per cent of the people who responded to the survey had been in the UK for less than a year, with those aged between 35 to 44 making up of 36 per cent of the respondents. Eighty-seven per cent of the Hongkongers surveyed held British National (Overseas) visas, while 4.7 per cent entered the UK on Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR).

“The fact that only around a third of the respondents are working full-time or part-time in the UK, and almost half are unemployed and looking for work despite long job seeking efforts, is not desirable,” HKB said.

Hongkongers in Britain
Photo: Hongkongers in Britain.

Hong Kong has seen a mass exodus of individuals and families to the UK since the British government launched a visa scheme in January that allows BN(O) status holders to reside and work in the country for up to five years and eventually seek citizenship. The new immigration pathway was announced in less than a month after the Beijing-imposed national security law was enacted on June 30 last year.

HKB’s survey showed that 69.2 per cent of the respondents held an undergraduate agree or above, while over half of the respondents were earning HK$30,000 or above per month prior to emigrating to Britain. Some of the recent Hong Kong emigrants to the UK had worked in the finance and insurance industry, information communication and education before their move.

Hong Kong International Airport
Hongkongers who are emigrating overseas photographed in the Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The respondents cited the language barrier, a lack of relevant skills or qualifications and issues with proving their right to work as obstacles they faced when searching for jobs.

HKB said English language training targeted for employment should be made more readily available and affordable to newcomers from Hong Kong, while information on job opportunities by locations should be advertised online more accurately.

“[The] lack of language confidence is probably due to an emphasis on reading and writing English in Hong Kong education, but insufficient opportunities to practise speaking and listening to British style English, meaning a general lack of confidence in practical use of language,” the group wrote in the survey report.

The NGO also urged the British authorities to reduce administrate hurdles for BN(0) holders to find jobs by speeding up the processing of national insurance number applications. UK employers should receive training and guidance from the government about the right to work of people holding BN(O) status, it added, saying the government should design a system for recognising, assessing and converting professional qualifications.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.