More professions added to city’s talent list to attract high-caliber specialists 

Pedestrians cross a busy intersection in the Central business district of Hong Kong on Oct 26, 2022. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday significantly increased the number of professions on its talent list from 13 to 51 in a bid to attract more high-quality talents to the city.

Industry representatives believe that the expanded list could help alleviate the manpower shortage in Hong Kong. However, they suggested that experts from each sector should scrutinize the application criteria to ensure the program attracts talents that the city really needs.

The talent list was introduced in 2018 with 11 professions and was later expanded to cover 13 professions in 2021. In his Policy Address in October 2022, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu proposed further expansion of the list to recruit more talents.

The list now covers 51 professions from nine industry segments — business support; the creative industries, including arts and culture and the performing arts; development and construction; environmental technology services; financial services; healthcare services; innovation and technology; legal and dispute resolution services; and maritime services. 

The newly added industry segments — healthcare services and development and construction — contain 13 and 11 professions, respectively. The healthcare services segment includes doctors, nurses, Chinese medicine practitioners, midwives and pharmacists; and the construction category includes professionals in architecture, land surveying, town planning, and various engineering experts.

Some professions within previously listed industry segments, such as experienced artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and experienced cloud infrastructure specialists, in the innovation and technology industry segment, have also been added to the list.

Eligible talents can apply for immigration facilitation under the General Employment Policy (GEP), the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP), and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) immediately. 

Under the QMAS, eligible applicants who meet the requirements for their respective professions on the list will be awarded 30 bonus points under the General Points Test, boosting their chances of approval. 

Starting Dec 28, employers recruiting talents under the GEP and the ASMTP to fill a vacancy requiring someone from a profession on the list are not required to provide proof that they have experienced difficulty in recruiting someone locally when submitting their application, thereby shortening the time needed for employers to recruit outside talents.

While the list provides entry facilitation to eligible talents, professionals who wish to practice in Hong Kong must comply with local laws and regulations, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han told the media on Tuesday.

Recruited talents must meet specific criteria, such as being university graduates. In some industries, including healthcare services and development and construction, applicants should also have a certain number of years’ work experience, Sun said. 

According to Sun, the government’s overall key performance indicator for talent introduction is to attract at least 35,000 professionals to Hong Kong each year for the next two years, and for them to stay in the city for a minimum of 12 months.

Sun is confident that the government will achieve its targets, given the positive response to the various talent programs that have been put in place.

Tony Tse Wai-chuen, a surveyor and lawmaker representing the architectural, surveying, planning, and landscape sectors, expressed his support for the updated list.

The importation of talents could meet the city’s talent demand in the short term; however, in the longer term, the government still needs to train more local talents and attract Hong Kong professionals working abroad to return to the city, Tse said.

Expressing his support for the move to attract more talents, Thomas Lee Kin-wah, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, said the expanded list could help address the acute shortage of high-end professionals in the city’s construction industry.

Lam Chun-sing, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions, suggested that the government consult with various sectors in detail before the expansion and set a ceiling on the number of imported workers to protect the local job market.

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