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LCQ1: Initiatives to "compete for talents"
     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Hoey Simon Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):


     It has been reported that a renowned Chinese structural biologist announced earlier on that she would resign from her teaching position at a university in the United States, and return to China to take up the post of founding dean of the Shenzhen Medical Academy of Research and Translation. It is learnt that some universities in Hong Kong had also made great effort to invite the structural biologist to join them, but ultimately failed. On the other hand, one of the key foci of the latest Policy Address is to "compete for talents", actively recruiting talents from the Mainland and overseas. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the differences and similarities in respect of the Government's strategies and efforts to recruit talents from the Mainland and from overseas;

(2) as it has been reported that Shenzhen provides talents with guaranteed huge amounts of funding, generous accommodation subsidies, assurance of autonomy, other complementary services, etc., whether the Government will follow the practices of neighbouring regions such as Shenzhen and Singapore in competing for talents; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as the aforesaid instance has demonstrated that it will be difficult to have the strongest competitive edge in competing for talents when relying solely on the strength of a single university or institution, whether the Government will in future consider supporting, and stepping up the collaboration with, various local universities and industries in recruiting talents; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Acting President,

     In consultation with the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau and the Education Bureau, my consolidated reply to the question raised by Dr the Hon Hoey Simon Lee is as follows:

(1) The 2022 Policy Address announced a package of initiatives to proactively trawl for talents from around the world. We formulated different admission schemes to trawl for talents from different backgrounds and professions to come and settle in Hong Kong. These schemes are in general applicable to both Mainland and overseas talents. The streamlining arrangement of the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals and the extension of the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates to graduates from campuses of Hong Kong universities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area are however designated for Mainland talents only.

     In accordance with the background, professional experience and geographic location of the target talent groups under various schemes, we will formulate relevant publicity and recruitment strategies and to scout them through appropriate channels. The Talents Service Unit to be established soon will be responsible for formulating strategies to recruit talents from the Mainland and overseas, implementing and co-ordinating relevant talent attraction work, and provision of one-stop support for incoming talents. Besides, the Mainland Offices and overseas Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) will set up the Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses and Talents to proactively engage talents. In addition to the usual offline publicity and promotion activities, we will also make the best use of online platforms, social media and electronic messaging system which are commonly used by overseas and Mainland individuals in future to reach out to target groups in regions with no presence of ETOs. We will send targeted messages to these groups according to their background and experience to introduce development opportunities in Hong Kong, details of admission schemes and support services, etc. To conclude, our engagement strategy is to customise the messages as far as possible, and the tone and manner of such messages should be tailored to match the habits of platform users and cater for the interests of different talent groups.

     The online platforms and social media commonly used by the Mainlanders and overseas individuals are different. We will set up dedicated accounts to prepare for subsequent work. We will also connect with talent user groups on different platforms to expand our network and facilitate the implementation work.

(2) Different countries or regions formulate talent attraction strategies in accordance with their own circumstances. When formulating measures to trawl for talents, Hong Kong has made reference to other places' practices. We eventually drew up proper solutions to achieve the objective of addressing the manpower shortage situations in Hong Kong.

     Hong Kong's manpower shortage are broad-based involving workers of different skill levels in various industries and sectors. Owing to the huge demand for talents, we will not consider providing financial incentives or accommodation subsidies, etc. for all talents coming to Hong Kong. We believe that Hong Kong's inherent advantages and opportunities are still very attractive.

     However, global competition for talents in specific streams turns increasingly fierce. The Government is prepared to implement measures for strategic industries including provision of financial incentives to strengthen our attractiveness. In respect of the Innovation and Technology (I&T) industry, the Policy Address this year has announced the collaboration with the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises to provide special facilitation measures in a targeted manner, attract leading I&T talents around the globe, enhance the existing technology talent schemes, increase accommodation support and expand the STEM Internship Scheme, etc. The Government will continue to improve the I&T ecosystem, develop Hong Kong into an international I&T centre, and also enhance relevant measures in a timely manner to retain I&T talents.

(3) The Government is committed to supporting the collaboration within local universities and industries, to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness in recruiting I&T talents of various fields, and for the continual development of the research environment in order to attract and retain talents. Measures include:

(i) The Policy Address this year has announced that a $10 billion "Research, Academic and Industry Sectors One-plus Scheme" will be launched. It will fund research team in universities on a matching basis which have good potential to become start-ups. The aim is to promote the "1 to N" transformation of research and development (R&D) outcomes and the industry development;

(ii) The Global STEM Professorship launched by the Government in 2021 is welcomed by the universities, around 80 out of the 100 places have been awarded to recruit internationally renowned I&T scholars;

(iii) To actively nurture research talents, the Policy Address proposed an increase in the number of publicly-funded research postgraduate (RPg) places to 7 200 with effect from the 2024/25 academic year. Coupled with the gradual relaxation of the over-enrolment ceiling of RPg places from 70 per cent to 100 per cent from last year onwards, the capacity of enrolling RPg students will increase by more than 50 per cent; and

(iv) The Government injected $20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund in 2019, bringing the total amount to $46 billion and generating investment return for the Research Grants Council (RGC) to cater for the increasing demand. The overall budget for the RGC-funded projects in the 2022/23 academic year is about $2.27 billion, representing a substantial increase of over 70 per cent before the injection. The Government also introduced in 2019 the $3-billion Research Matching Grant Scheme to incentivise the private sector to strengthen financial support for R&D.

     We will monitor the implementation of various measures and strategies, and keep track of relevant developments in other places. Appropriate adjustments will be made as and when necessary.
Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:40
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