Fewer Expatriates Want To Work In Hong Kong

Fewer Expatriates Want To Work In Hong Kong

HONG KONG – In another sign that the Chinese territory is losing its appeal, hiring companies in Hong Kong are facing issues recruiting overseas graduates to work for banks and law firms here, reported Bloomberg on Monday (18 July, SGT).

Amidst Hong Kong’s draconian COVID-related rules and a clampdown on dissent, the city has witnessed an exodus of veteran financial professionals. Now recruitment firms revealed that junior talent for law firms and investment banks are harder to find and retain. For example, multinational headhunter Ambition reported a 40 percent plunge in the number of candidates looking for entry-level positions here compared to before the virus outbreak.

Among those moving elsewhere is 21-year-old Goldman Sachs analyst Sparsh Singhal, who is relocating to Singapore just 1 year after graduating so he can spend some time with his family in Indonesia to escape Hong Kong’s harsh quarantine rules.

“I didn’t really want to leave Hong Kong, but every time I think of going back to visit my family or they think about coming here, quarantine just takes up all of our leave.”

Hong Kong’s top universities have long lured students from across the globe, with such graduates subsequently entering the local talent pool. But based on the latest statistics, enrolments of international students, excluding those from mainland China, across the top three universities have declined for the first time in a decade, dropping to 3,803 in the academic year 2020 to 2021 from 3,977 in academic year 2019 to 2020.

As many graduates now decide to seek jobs outside of Hong Kong, it poses a problem for hiring companies.

Ambition’s Business Manager Jenny Yuen shared that her inbox used to be full of enquiries from entry-level applicants, but since 2021, she’s had to go find talent, and many Hong Kong graduates told her they are not looking for local jobs.

“This has been the worst year,” compared to 2018 and 2019, when fresh graduates were all over job ads,” she noted.

Similarly, Page Personnel’s Regional Director in Hong Kong Ellen Lai said they saw a 30 percent fall in the number of international students outside of Asia who graduated in Hong Kong and stayed for jobs. And only exceptional job offers are preventing such graduates leaving the city.

Worse, headhunters disclosed that the brain drain in Hong Kong is happening across all experience levels. For instance, Morgan McKinley shared that it has witnessed a 60 percent plunge in interest across entry-level to experienced hires, on a rolling 6-month basis to the end of June 2022. Job candidates disclosed they were leaving, or seeking to leave Hong Kong, said Rob Sheffield, Managing Director for Greater China at Morgan McKinley, which finds talent for clients like hedge funds, as well as investment and corporate banks.

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