Foreign Workers Weary Of Stringent COVID Rules In SG, HK
HONG KONG – Firms involved in executive hiring revealed that expatriates, particularly professionals and skilled workers, are increasingly getting turned off by the continued stringent COVID-related curbs in Hong Kong and Singapore, according to a recent report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Consequently, a significant number of foreign workers have left both cities. In Hong Kong, the Chinese territory lost 89,000 residents in the 12 months ended 30 June 2021 2021, while about 175,000 of Singapore’s non-resident population left during the period.
Some analysts noted that as foreign workers now place importance on local COVID regulation when choosing their work base, Asia could lose its appeal over the short term. In turn, this could negatively impact the region’s access to highly-coveted talent, such as individuals who work with data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and software development.
The silver lining is that the disruption could be temporary. Bruno Lanvin, a distinguished fellow at the INSEAD business school, described the stringent COVID rules as “cyclical elements”.
Aside from that, financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong have many qualities that expatriates find appealing, such as quality education, world-class health care, and excellent infrastructure that supports digital connectivity. These attributes, in addition to business-friendly policies, allow both cities to attract a steady stream of foreign workers, noted experts.
These “quality of living” factors mean places like Singapore “will continue to be an attractive place despite all the anxieties, challenges and frustrations,” said Ivan Tan, Principal Consultant of rewards and general mobility at Mercer.
Global rankings reflect this. While Singapore fell to the 5th place from the top spot it had held for 2 straight years in the World Competitiveness Ranking compiled by Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development, the city-state remains the highest ranked economy in Asia.
A separate Global City Talent Competitiveness Index, published on Tuesday by US-based Portulans Institute and INSEAD, ranked Singapore and Hong Kong as the 7th and the 20th most talent-competitive cities, respectively. And both were the only Asian cities that made it to the top 20.