Many internet technology businesses in Hong Kong have been stumbling into crisis when foreigners left in conjunction with a wave of migration.

A strict “zero-COVID” policy dispelled some foreigners, companies included, and discouraged new arrivals. 

Skilled workers are leaving Hong Kong, while new graduates seek top jobs, but Hong Kong is no longer their first option. 

In just one year, from 2020 to 2021, the number of American businesses in Hong Kong went down from 282 to 254.

According to official data, the number of people working in the city in the last two years dropped by about 140,000.

In addition to a brain drain, Hong Kong is struggling with a shortage of tech graduates. Leonard Chan Tik-yuen is the chairman of the Hong Kong Innovative Technology Development Association. He says that this year 2022, the tech industry may need up to 20,000 people.

He said this field requires about 8,000 people yearly, but the current supply is only 2,000. It is seriously lacking. 

Besides, Hong Kong’s education system needs to keep up with the demand for new technologies like AI, telecommunications, biotechnology, and cloud technology. 

Furthermore, the high cost of living and education in Hong Kong is also a barricade to attracting talent to the city. Renting in Hong Kong is expensive, and the international school system doesn’t meet current needs.

Hong Kong has long had plans to attract tech talent from China and other countries. But it has failed to attract new talent. 

In 2019, about 67,000 people came to Hong Kong to work. This number dropped to 30,500 in 2020 and 32,200 in 2021.

Strict COVID measures and Beijing’s new security laws play a part, but fierce competition from other job markets is also a reason. 

Due to the brain drain, Hong Kong’s leader Lee Ka-chiu announced a plan to lure people back to the city.

Hong Kong rolled out The Talent Pass op program, granting two-year visas to people who earn at least $318,000 or who have graduated from one of the top 100 colleges in the world and had at least three years of work experience. 

Companies also do not have to prove there aren’t enough Hong Kongers before hiring workers from other countries in 13 industries.

Singapore gave a five-year visa to top CEOs earning a minimum monthly salary of $21,700. 

Meanwhile, since 2019, Australia has given permanent residency to highly qualified workers in specific fields who earn at least $110,000 per year. 

This policy has attracted almost 1,000 people from Hong Kong to Australia.

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