The financial industry is one of Hong Kong’s pillar industries, accounting for around 20% of our GDP, and is a key driver of economic growth. Hong Kong’s continued success as an international financial centre depends critically on the supply of talent. Our local universities are a key source of talent as they produce over 20,000 new graduates every year for the labour market. A substantial portion of these graduates will embark on careers in banks and other financial institutions, adding fresh impetus to the development of Hong Kong’s financial industry.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has made it more challenging for graduates to find a job this year. As the economy is going through a downturn, many firms have already indicated that they might have to stop recruiting or even consider letting people go. Such plans will certainly have implications for the labour force, in particular young jobseekers. According to the latest figures announced by the Census and Statistics Department, the unemployment rate for February to April has risen to 5.2%, the highest in more than a decade. Notably, the unemployment rate in the 20-29 age group has climbed to as high as 8.1%.
The pandemic will come to an end one day. When the economy recovers, I believe that financial talent will still be in great demand. Until then, however, this pandemic may result in many young people losing the opportunity to enter the job market to gain work experience. From a broader perspective, we also have to ensure that the nurture of talent, which is core to our long-term economic development, will not be disrupted by economic fluctuations.
With this in mind, the HKMA announces today that we will join hands with the banking industry and launch the Banking Talent Programme to offer about 300 working opportunities of six-month duration, with a monthly salary of HK$12,000, to fresh graduates from local universities. Applications will open in mid-June and the selected graduates will start work in September. To encourage the industry to participate in the programme, the HKMA will sponsor up to half of the salaries of the fresh graduates employed by the participating firms.
In addition, the HKMA will arrange professional training for the fresh graduates and subsidise their course fees during the programme. Such training will include finance-related seminars and professional courses. We hope that these arrangements will equip young graduates with the necessary banking knowledge so that they can be better prepared for a career in finance when the job market picks up again.
As the Chinese saying goes, it takes ten years to grow a tree but a hundred years to nurture a person. I believe the programme will help fresh graduates accumulate valuable working experience and knowledge, lay a good foundation for their career, and at the same time strengthen the talent pool for Hong Kong’s financial industry.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority
4 June 2020