Attracting Talent to Thrive: Hong Kong’s Strategic Response to Workforce Challenges

The Globe Talent Summit (GTS) in Hong Kong was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 7th and 8th. Chief Executive John Lee attended, emphasizing that talent is a crucial resource for Hong Kong’s economic development and competitiveness. He also highlighted Hong Kong as a place for talent to thrive and grow within the Asian and global economies. The summit attracted talents from around the world, with over 7,000 participants attending the two-day event, including the Talent Hunt Expo.




Why was Chief Executive John Lee invited to attend this talent summit? Because the Hong Kong government has indeed been exerting its full efforts over the past two years to attract talent to move to Hong Kong, know Hong Kong better and stay in Hong Kong. Why invest so much effort in attracting talent to Hong Kong?


On one hand, it’s because over the past three years under the influence of the pandemic, Hong Kong has lost a significant amount of its workforce, especially high-skilled individuals. Chris Sun, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Bureau, mentioned at a press conference on the Imported Workers Scheme in Hong Kong that in 2018, Hong Kong had a labor force of 3.68 million people, but by 2022, it had decreased to 3.46 million, with a reduction of approximately 160,000 people in the low-skilled category. Consequently, many industries are facing a shortage of manpower.


On the other hand, Hong Kong is renowned for its high life expectancy and serious aging population issue. According to the United Nations’ “Human Development Report” released in 2023, the average life expectancy in Hong Kong is 85.5 years old (with females averaging 89.6 years), consistently ranking as the world’s longest-lived region for seven consecutive years. In 2021, the proportion of people aged 65 and above in Hong Kong exceeded 20%, marking it as a super-aged society. The elderly population is even on the verge of becoming one of the main labor force groups in Hong Kong.


Furthermore, Hong Kong’s birth rate has been continuously declining. According to the “State of the World Population” report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2023, Hong Kong has the lowest fertility rate globally, with each woman giving birth to only 0.8 children on average. This rate is even lower than that of South Korea, indicating a significant trend towards a “low birth rate” society.


The severity of labor force loss, aging population, and the lowest birth rate globally in Hong Kong necessitates the Hong Kong government’s vigorous efforts over the past two years to attract foreign population to maintain its status as a financial and trade center. Furthermore, it’s preferable that the incoming population consists of middle-class individuals, highly educated and skilled professionals, and technical talents. These individuals not only possess high levels of education and abundant resources but also contribute to Hong Kong’s development through innovation. They also place significant emphasis on the education and development of the next generation, thereby contributing to the quality of Hong Kong’s future population.


The Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme targets precisely these individuals, addressing the talent and labor force gap in Hong Kong effectively.


Who is suitable for this scheme?

1.Individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably master’s or doctoral degrees, indicating a high level of education.

2.Those who have worked for more than three years in Fortune 500 companies or listed enterprises globally, demonstrating a strong work history and the ability to accumulate high-quality networks and resources in large companies.

3.Individuals with overseas work experience and an international perspective.

4.Executives or founders of high-tech enterprises, possessing abundant resources and often high net worth individuals who can directly bring these resources to Hong Kong for resource transformation.

5.Executives in the financial, accounting, telecommunications, and construction industries, which are crucial sectors for Hong Kong and require the influx of talents to maintain its status as a financial and trade center.


Since 2022, the Hong Kong government has implemented a series of policies to attract talents to the city. The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme has notably been operating without quota restrictions for two years, a significant departure from previous years where quotas were limited. Before 2022, the maximum quota granted annually was only 4,000, highlighting the determination of the Hong Kong government.


This approach has yielded significant results. In approximately the past year and a half, the Immigration Department of Hong Kong has received around 290,000 visa applications and approved nearly 180,000, with over 120,000 talented individuals already coming to Hong Kong.



According to the latest data released by the Hong Kong government, the provisional population figure for Hong Kong at the end of 2023 was 7.5031 million, an increase of approximately 30,000 people from the end of 2022, representing a growth rate of 0.4%. Hong Kong’s population has returned to the 7.5 million mark. These figures are a reflection of the effectiveness of Hong Kong’s policies in attracting talents to the city.


This also indirectly indicates that over the past two years, if you’ve applied for a visa to Hong Kong, you’ve truly aligned with the actual social conditions in Hong Kong and seized the golden period of policies. Those in the immigration or relocation industry understand that favorable policy periods are fleeting, and policies can change unexpectedly. Therefore, individuals interested in obtaining Hong Kong residency or who meet the application requirements should not hesitate or delay. Seizing the opportunity and applying promptly is the best course of action.


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