Speech on Assisting young people in their development on all fronts

1) Young people nowadays face many difficulties and challenges when trying to climb up the social ladder. Upward social mobility has become a target that is beyond their reach.

2) Some studies showed that economic development is the significant reason for putting young people in this difficult situation. These studies explained that Hong Kong’s economy has already reached maturity, resulting in slow growth in job opportunities. Young people who lack working experience have more difficulties to find jobs. Most likely, they can only find low-paid jobs. And the unemployment rate for youth is higher than the overall jobless rate in Hong Kong. Due to the limited job growth in managerial and professional positions, many university graduates may be forced to take up jobs that only require secondary school education. Failing to achieve their life goals, the young people have a natural resentment towards the society.

3) I agree that a holistic approach will help support unemployed young people. But we must first create a better employment environment for them. Therefore, I propose to make an amendment, urging the Government to boost economic development so that more jobs can be created for the youth.

4) Since the handover, Hong Kong’s economy still very much relies on the financial and property sectors. Among our four pillar industries, logistics has been shrinking, while little achievement has been seen in the development of new industries. What is more, Hong Kong’s economy has increasingly relied on the Mainland. Under such circumstances, it will be more difficult for Hong Kong people in general to secure employment, let alone young people.

5) The development of Hong Kong’s economy should be diversified. I would suggest that Hong Kong should promote a ‘Headquarter Economy’. In other words, the Government should offer more favorable policies to attract foreign investors and companies to set up headquarters or offices in our city.

6) Hong Kong has always tried to attract international investors, but the effort made is still not enough. At present, 7,449 foreign companies set up their regional headquarters or offices in the city, employing a total of 380,000 people. These are the highest rates in Hong Kong’s history. But the growth in recent years is mainly contributed by Mainland enterprises. Hong Kong should learn from Singapore by introducing more favorable policies so that it can attract more multinational corporations to invest in our city, thus boosting diversity in international trade development.

7) At present, 26,000 multinational corporations have invested in Singapore, and many of them are world-class enterprises. This reflects that there is still a chance for Hong Kong to develop. If we can attract more multinational enterprises to set up businesses in Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of job opportunities will be created for the youth. Not just it can solve our youth problem, it will be beneficial for Hong Kong’s economy.

8) In the past, young people found it difficult to start their own business because of expensive rent. But as online shopping has become popular, it makes it easier for young people to start their own business. The cost of starting an online business is comparatively low, and business opportunities abound. Online business, which requires knowledge in information technology, is particularly suitable for adolescents. The Government should provide technical support for our youth so that they can have one more option for their career development.

9) In the long term, the Government should focus more on the physical and psychological development in adolescence. Surfing the Internet has become the most popular hobby among youth in Hong Kong. They have lost interest in social life and some have been addicted to the virtual world. Apart from providing good education and job opportunities for the youth, the Government should help them develop a healthy lifestyle.

10) Sport is the best way to improve both physical and mental health. The Government should promote sports development and assist local soccer teams to join well-established competitions in Mainland China. The Government should also launch more cultural and recreational activities to boost young people’s interests in these areas.

11) Hidden drug abuse among the youth is escalating in Hong Kong. Soft drugs abused by young people can cause permanent physical and psychological damages in their lives. Not just they have ruined their own lives, the drug abusers will have to rely on long-term medical treatment and assistance for the rest of their lives, thereby causing heavy burden to our society. I hope the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) will continue to strengthen drug education and prevention efforts to combat drug abuse among youngsters.

12) Young people are also facing many problems in pursuing further education, especially those who are taking associate degree programmes. At present, only 20 per cent of the associate degree graduates can pursue further education. Graduates who join the labour market earn no better than the earnings of secondary school leavers. In addition, the tuition fee of associate degree programmes is costly, thus causing financial stress in both the students and their parents. I think the Government needs to review the policy on associate degree programmes.

13) Some young people have no interest in studying. They might be better off learning a skill to develop their careers. But there is a social stigma against blue-collar workers in Hong Kong. The MTR Corporation has recently launched a TV advertisement in which a female technician shares her thoughts about her job. The advertisement has changed the impression people have on blue-collar workers. In recent years, the Government has made serious efforts in upgrading the working environment for construction workers and recognising their contributions. Builders also enjoy high salaries. All these have attracted some young people to join the industry. The Government should continue their efforts in the areas so as to create more career choices for young people.

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