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HSBC, Deloitte, Sun Hung Kai Properties among firms offering Greater Bay Area work experience to Hong Kong youth

Banks, accounting firms, insurers and property developers in Hong Kong are offering youngsters incentives to work in the Greater Bay Area development zone, industry players said.

These organisations see the better connectivity between Hong Kong and the mainland cities that are part of the zone as boosting their bottom lines in the future and want to hire more young people to work there.

The Hong Kong government too hopes the city's status as an international financial hub will help boost growth throughout the Greater Bay Area and provide opportunities for the city's youth, who are facing a challenging employment environment following months of anti-government protests and the coronavirus pandemic. The city's unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 25 stood at 18.2 per cent as of July, according to government data.

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In her policy address on November 25, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced a new youth employment scheme that encourages companies to recruit local graduates to work in the Greater Bay Area, a hotbed of innovation and technology. The scheme is expected to provide 2,000 placements.

HSBC, the biggest lender in the city, said this month that it would grant up to HK$8 million (US$1.03 million) for scholarships over the next three academic years for up to 100 Hong Kong undergraduates who want to work or study in the region. It is inviting applications from 12 universities and tertiary institutions in Hong Kong.

"As an economy, the Greater Bay Area is the 12th largest in the world," HSBC's Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong Tung-shun said in a December 14 statement. "The demand for talent will only grow exponentially, as businesses become more digital, innovative and seek to incorporate the latest technologies while transitioning to a green economy."

The cluster of 11 cities, with a combined population of 72 million residents and an economy estimated at US$1.65 trillion, provides a potential market 10 times the size of Hong Kong's.

HSBC, which describes itself as the largest foreign bank in the Greater Bay Area, broke ground in March on a 16,000 square metre global training centre in Nansha, in Guangzhou province, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

Bank of China (Hong Kong) has also been involved in a variety of government-backed internship and exchange programmes that help Hong Kong youngsters experience the mainland. It has also funded charitable organisations to create career development projects for Hong Kong youngsters to work in the Greater Bay Area. A spokesman said these projects offer more than 110,000 spots in total.

Standard Chartered said it was rotating fresh graduates in its international graduate programme to the Greater Bay Area. The bank is investing US$40 million in a new Greater Bay Area centre in Guangzhou while it is targeting having more than 1,600 staff there by 2023, including young talent from Hong Kong.

The Bank of East Asia, meanwhile, offers young Hongkongers a chance to join its management trainee programme and work in its branches in the nine Greater Bay Area cities.

Besides banks, some of the Big Four accounting firms also want to hire more Hong Kong youngsters to work in their Greater Bay Area branches.

"Every year, Deloitte hires more than 600 new graduates within the Greater Bay Area," Dennis Chow Chi-in, chairman of Deloitte China, told the South China Morning Post.

Dennis Chow Chi-in, the chairman of Deloitte China. Photo: Edmond So alt=Dennis Chow Chi-in, the chairman of Deloitte China. Photo: Edmond So

"We echo [Carrie Lam's] remarks that the Greater Bay Area presents huge opportunities for the development of various sectors in Hong Kong," Chow said, added that Deloitte would fully support the scheme to provide opportunities for youngsters in the area.

The firm set up The Deloitte Greater Bay Area Centre in Shenzhen in 2019 to serve the many innovative entrepreneurs in the city. The city was home to 25 of the Greater Bay Area's 43 unicorns last year. And half of all patents filed in China are from Shenzhen.

EY, another Big Four accounting and consultancy firm, signed a talent-exchange programme strategic agreement with the Shenzhen Luohu District government on December 18, committing to jointly promote talent growth in the Greater Bay Area.

"EY is committed to building a better working world by helping young people develop their careers and broaden their horizons," Agnes Chan, the Hong Kong and Macau managing partner at EY said in an interview. "We launched our Greater Bay Area Youth Mobility Programme in August this year to offer internships to university students in EY offices in the Greater Bay Area".

Hong Kong's insurance companies are also seeking Hong Kong young that is willing to go north. As part of the Greater Bay Area development plan, Beijing has agreed to let Hong Kong insurers set up three customer service centres in the area in the near future.

Eric Hui Kam-kwai, the chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. Photo: Jonathan Wong alt=Eric Hui Kam-kwai, the chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. Photo: Jonathan Wong

"When the customer service centres are established in the Greater Bay Area cities for our industry, more talent will have opportunities to work there," said Eric Hui Kam-kwai, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI), an industry body. "As we integrate into the Greater Bay Area, we will look into any programmes that promote exchange and learning for youngsters," Hui said.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong's biggest developer by value, has many large-scale projects in Greater Bay Area cities such as Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Dongguan and Foshan.

"We will support and take part in the Hong Kong government's Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme. Upon its launch, some of our young colleagues will be deployed to work in the Greater Bay Area on our projects," a spokesman said.

The developer has since 2006 recruited both Hong Kong and mainland university graduates for its management trainee programme, he added.

Additional reporting by Jack Lau

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.