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LCQ10: Hong Kong's youth developing career and studying on Mainland
     Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Caspar Tsui, in the Legislative Council today (November 18):
     The Government is currently promoting and supporting Hong Kong's youth in entrepreneurship and employment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), in accordance with the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area promulgated in early 2019. On the other hand, there are quite a number of Hong Kong's youth studying on the Mainland at present. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the respective numbers of Hong Kong's youth aged between 15 and 40 who have now (i) started up businesses and (ii) taken up employment, in other cities in the GBA, and set out in the table below a breakdown by the age group to which they belong and the city in which they live; if such figures are unavailable, whether it will compile the statistics;
Age group Other cities in the Greater Bay Area
Guangzhou Shenzhen Zhuhai Foshan Dongguan Zhaoqing Zhongshan Jiangmen Huizhou Macao
15 to 20 (i)                    
21 to 25 (i)                    
26 to 30 (i)                    
31 to 35 (i)                    
36 to 40 (i)                    
Total (i)                    
(2) whether it knows the major categories of occupations and trades in which Hong Kong's youth mentioned in (1) are engaged, and a breakdown of the relevant number of persons; if such figures are unavailable, whether it will compile the statistics;
(3) in respect of (i) the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and (ii) the Funding Scheme for Experiential Programmes at Innovation and Entrepreneurial Bases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area rolled out in March 2019 under the Youth Development Fund, of the respective numbers of applications (a) received and (b) approved so far;
(4) of the number of applications received under the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme in each of the past five years; whether it knows, among the persons who had received such subsidies in the past five years, the respective numbers of those who, upon graduation, (i) returned to Hong Kong for employment and (ii) stayed on the Mainland to pursue career development, as well as the respective major occupations and positions in which they are engaged; and
(5) whether it has formulated further measures to facilitate Hong Kong's youth studying and developing career on the Mainland, as well as help them understand the country and integrate themselves into the country's development; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     Having consulted the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Education Bureau (EDB) and the Labour and Welfare Bureau, our consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Lau is as follows:
     The Government has been exploring ways for Hong Kong young people to take up employment, start businesses and study in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). It is one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in the country, offering financial, business and trading services for connecting the world together with advanced industrial production capabilities. With enormous development potential, GBA does not only provide new impetus for Hong Kong's future economic development, but also present key opportunities for post-pandemic recovery of our economy. Hong Kong could synergise with other GBA cities in many areas including finance, innovation and technology, professional services, etc. GBA development will bring about numerous quality job opportunities for Hong Kong young people to ascend their career ladder. We encourage them to look for development in GBA and seize opportunities therein.
(1) and (2) The Government does not maintain relevant statistics on Hong Kong young people starting businesses or taking up employment in other GBA cities.
(3) To further assist young entrepreneurs of Hong Kong to explore opportunities brought about by GBA development, the Government has introduced, under the Youth Development Fund, the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Funding Scheme for Experiential Programmes at Innovation and Entrepreneurial Bases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with a view to encouraging Hong Kong young people to make optimal use of the innovative and entrepreneurial (I&E) bases in GBA and helping them develop their businesses in both Hong Kong and Mainland GBA cities. Well received by various sectors of the community, the two schemes have attracted funding applications from a total of more than 40 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong. The assessment has entered its final stage and the application results will be officially announced in due course. It is estimated that a total of about $100 million will be granted by the former scheme for some 10 NGOs to implement youth entrepreneurship projects, under which subsidies will be provided for nearly 200 youth start-ups who intend to start or have already started their businesses in Hong Kong and/or Mainland GBA cities, while start-up support and incubation services will be rendered to about 4 000 young people. As for the latter scheme, it is estimated that about $5 million will be granted for some 10 NGOs to organise short-term experiential programmes at I&E bases in Mainland GBA cities, benefiting nearly 700 young people.
(4) Launched in July 2014, the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme (MUSSS) has expanded its coverage and introduced non-means-tested subsidy in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years respectively. The number of applications received in the 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years were 2 425, 3 453, 3 403, 3 484 and 4 261 respectively. The Government does not maintain statistics on the number of Hong Kong students returning to Hong Kong for employment or staying in the Mainland for further development upon graduation of their studies in the Mainland.
(5) The Government has been taking forward the development of the GBA proactively. In 2019, the Central Government announced 24 policy measures in the context of the GBA development, facilitating Hong Kong residents to develop their career, work and reside in Mainland GBA cities, as well as enhancing the convenient flow of people and goods within the GBA. Amongst the policy measures, those that are relevant to facilitating the young people of Hong Kong to develop in the Mainland include supporting the open recruitment of Hong Kong and Macao residents by public institutions in the GBA; introducing immigration facilitation reform pilot schemes in the GBA; and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship by Hong Kong and Macao young people in the nine Mainland GBA cities. The Government will continue to make use of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao co-operation platform to encourage the young people of Hong Kong to study, work and reside in the Mainland. We will also seek to enhance the understanding of Hong Kong young people in the latest developments and opportunities in the Mainland through internship, exchange, entrepreneurship programmes and publicity efforts, etc. with a view to promoting further exchanges between the young people of the two places.
     On employment, the Labour Department (LD) has since 2015 organised in collaboration with relevant chambers of commerce a total of 12 large-scale thematic job fairs featuring employment and vacancy information in the Mainland to enhance understanding of job seekers (including young people) of Hong Kong on relevant job opportunities and employment conditions in the Mainland (including GBA), and assist them in finding suitable jobs. LD has also set up a dedicated webpage about Information on Employment in the Mainland at its website on Interactive Employment Service, providing information on job vacancies in the Mainland advertised by Hong Kong employers, as well as Mainland employment information.
     On measures to facilitate academic pursuits, EDB will continue to assist the Ministry of Education in implementing in Hong Kong the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions (Admission Scheme), under which participating Mainland institutions admit Hong Kong students based on their results in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, thereby providing secondary school graduates with multiple study pathways and opportunities to connect with the country's development. EDB will also continue to provide subsidies to Hong Kong secondary school graduates who intend to study in the Mainland through MUSSS.
     Moreover, EDB encourages students to participate in Mainland exchange activities. To help them understand the country and strengthen their sense of national identity, EDB has been organising Mainland exchange programmes or subsidising those organised by schools with diversified themes to dovetail with the latest development of the school curriculum and the country. Through these programmes, students could gain first-hand experience of the country's development in such aspects as history, culture, economy, education, science and technology, understand opportunities and challenges brought about by the country's development for Hong Kong, and enrich their life-wide learning experience. Mainland exchange programmes, including those visiting the nine Mainland GBA cities and the Macao Special Administrative Region, have been popular among teachers and students. Examples are the Mainland Exchange Programme for Junior Secondary and Upper Primary Students, An Exploration into the Economic Development and Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation in Nansha and Qianhai, and An Exploration into the Prospects for Further Studies and Employment in the Mainland and Macao. These programmes enable students to visit entrepreneurial bases for young people in Nansha and Qianhai, innovative enterprises in Shenzhen and universities under the Admission Scheme. With the opening of the Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), An Exploration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Cities was first organised in the 2019/20 school year to enable students to learn and gain first-hand experience of the planning and development of GBA cities and the travel convenience via their trips on the Hong Kong Section of XRL and HZMB, so as to reflect on opportunities brought about by GBA development for Hong Kong. Furthermore, many schools in Hong Kong have, on their own initiative or through EDB's co-ordination, formed sister schools with their counterparts in various provinces and cities in the Mainland. Most sister schools are located in GBA, amounting to about 900 pairs. They have been organising mutual visits and multi-faceted exchange activities based on their school-based development needs. Through exchange and contact, Hong Kong students have deepened their understanding of the Mainland in various aspects. For post-secondary students of Hong Kong, EDB provides subsidies through the Mainland Experience Scheme for Post-Secondary Students to assist their participation in short-term internship or study in the Mainland and encourage them to learn through first-hand experience the country's latest social, economic and cultural landscape. Looking forward, EDB will continue to enhance and explore diversified student exchange programmes in alignment with the country's development, as well as broaden the exchange modes to enhance effectiveness.
     Outside school, Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) subsidises NGOs through the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland to organise Mainland internship activities for Hong Kong young people, with a view to enabling them to obtain real experience in the actual workplace environment in the Mainland, as well as acquire a deeper understanding of the employment market, work culture and development opportunities therein. In particular, being one of the major co-operation initiatives between Hong Kong and Guangdong, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Hong Kong Youth Internship Scheme launched under the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland has been expanded to cover all Mainland GBA cities since last year. Approximately 950 young people have taken up internship placements in GBA under the internship scheme, from which they have gained a deeper understanding of the labour market, workplace culture and career prospects in the Mainland. It has also helped our young people set their career goals ahead, accumulate work experience and build interpersonal networks, thus facilitating their future development in GBA.
     In addition to the funding scheme, HAB also collaborates with top-notch scientific research and cultural institutions in the Mainland as well as major corporations in Hong Kong to implement the Thematic Youth Internship Programmes to the Mainland and the Scheme on Corporate Summer Internship on the Mainland and Overseas respectively, providing unique internship opportunities for Hong Kong young people with different backgrounds, expertise and interests. In 2019, the three above-mentioned internship schemes altogether offered Mainland internship opportunities to over 4 000 young people.
     The Government will continue to enhance and expand various youth internship and exchange programmes in the Mainland with a view to providing Hong Kong young people deeper, wider and more diversified opportunities to explore GBA as well as other provinces and cities in the Mainland. By experiencing local culture and conducting in-depth exchange with local young people, Hong Kong young people could better understand and seize opportunities for development in GBA, facilitating their integration into the overall advancement of the country.
Ends/Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Issued at HKT 14:00
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