VIII. Connecting with Young People
302. “A nation will prosper when its young people thrive. A nation will be full of hope and have a bright future when its younger generation have ideals, abilities, and a sense of responsibility.14” I recognise that young people have different talents and aspirations, and possess diverse views on the current situation. In this connection, apart from providing young people with quality education, the society should understand more about their feelings and needs and create room for them to realise their dreams. I stated in my Policy Address last year that the Government would strive to do our best in youth development work by addressing young people’s concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. Over the past year, we have continued with our efforts to nurture talent, provide space for entrepreneurship and constructing youth hostels. We have also attracted young people who aspire to participate in public affairs through the Pilot Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth and the PICO. When preparing for this Policy Address, I met with these two groups of young people to listen to their views. They impressed me with their strong passion for and commitment to public affairs, as well as their insightful observations and suggestions regarding various policies.
Youth Development Commission
303. The Youth Development Commission (YDC) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration has been established since April this year. The YDC has pinned down three broad directions for its future work:
- assisting in young people’s selection of suitable study pathways;
- facilitating young people’s career development and promoting their upward mobility; and
- strengthening communication channels with young people.
304. The Government will work closely with the YDC in promoting youth development in Hong Kong. The Financial Secretary has reserved $1 billion in the Budget this year to support the YDC’s work, and of this, $500 million will first be allocated to implement a series of programmes and measures in support of the above directions. Details are elaborated in the ensuing sections.
Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship
305. Young people nowadays should have more room to unleash their potential than our generation. Their future is not dictated by a single examination sitting, nor are they obliged to stick with a job for life. The Government has stepped up support for young people to pursue innovation and entrepreneurship. The Government has established the Youth Development Fund (YDF) since 2016, under which the Entrepreneurship Matching Fund supports business venture by young people in the form of a matching subsidy in collaboration with NGOs so that the young entrepreneurs may receive guidance from them and gain valuable experience and knowledge during the start-up process. Around 190 young entrepreneurs have received subsidy in the first round of applications and are now developing their businesses. Making reference to past operational experience and the latest market trends, we will review the funding criteria for the second round of applications with a view to further helping young people meet their initial funding needs.
306. Furthermore, we endeavour to create more space for young people to start their business and unleash their creativity. The Space Sharing Scheme for Youth announced in the Policy Address last year has met with enthusiastic responses from many corporates. So far, property owners participating in the scheme have contributed more than 100 000 square feet of shared space in total, the majority of which have come into operation for use by young users of different industries, in particular I&T, creative industries as well as the arts and culture, benefitting over 1 000 young people. In addition to the leasing of work and creative space at concessionary rental, property owners and NGOs joining the scheme also provide diverse and specific entrepreneurship guidance and support services. We will carry on with the tripartite partnership among the private sector, NGOs and the Government and actively liaise with property owners and NGOs interested in joining the scheme.
307. We also hope that our young people could aim high and explore opportunities beyond Hong Kong. We believe that the development of the Greater Bay Area will bring about opportunities for aspiring Hong Kong young entrepreneurs. In collaboration with an NGO, we will roll out a pilot scheme to encourage Hong Kong young people to utilise entrepreneurial bases in the Greater Bay Area. Making reference to the experience gained from the pilot scheme, we will invite the YDC to explore the setting up of a new scheme and make an injection into the YDF to subsidise Hong Kong NGOs to provide young people starting their businesses in Hong Kong and other cities of the Greater Bay Area with start-up support and incubation services which best meet their needs, including helping them settle in entrepreneurial bases.
Stepping up Exchange with Young People
308. The current-term Government attaches great importance to communication with young people. To take forward the relevant work in a more effective and systematic manner, the YDC has formulated a youth engagement plan as a guide for its upcoming youth outreach activities. The YDC will organise territory-wide youth engagement activities and interact with young people from different social strata and backgrounds through multiple platforms, including regular visits and talks, and in-depth discussion on specific youth development topics with young people and the relevant stakeholders. The Government’s politically appointed team will also participate actively in these activities. An example is the “Be a Government Official for a Day” programme launched by the Commission on Poverty under the “Life Buddies” scheme this year, under which more than 30 selected senior secondary school students were invited to shadow the three Secretaries and 13 Directors of Bureau of the Government for a day during the summer holiday to gain hands-on experience of their work and a better understanding of the Government’s operation. The programme provided a direct channel for senior government officials to communicate and exchange views with young people. In view of the enthusiastic response and positive feedback to the programme this year, the Government will expand the scale of the programme in the coming year to include more senior officials. I will also participate in the programme and let students shadow the Chief Executive for a day.
309. Besides, I will chair the first YDC youth summit in the second half of next year to examine the outcome of the YDC’s work jointly with different sectors of the community and listen to the views of young people directly.
Young People Participating in Policy Discussion and Debate
310. To scout for talent more widely and encourage participation of young people in policy discussion and debate, I initiated the Pilot Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth last year, whereby five advisory committees were identified for inclusion in the first batch for recruiting self-recommended young members. The Pilot Scheme has successfully attracted a group of young people who are passionate about serving the community to take part in government work. Given the positive feedback, we have regularised the scheme and extended it to more boards and committees. From now on, the Government will roll out two rounds of recruitment every year, and Phase I of the Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth was launched in June this year, covering ten committees relating to a wide spectrum of policy areas, including land development, transport, education, environmental protection, social welfare, sports and home affairs. More than 1 500 eligible applications were received during the application period. At the same time, the Government has also invited those applicants attending the interviews to authorise the HAB to include their personal particulars in the Central Personality Index (CPI) database so that relevant bureaux and departments may retrieve the information for reference during their selection of candidates for appointment as members of advisory and statutory bodies. The number of young people in the CPI database was only about 940 before the launch of the Pilot Scheme (i.e. October last year) and we expect that the number will increase to around 2 770 in October. The proportion of youth members (aged between 18 and 35) has also increased from 7.8% as at the end of last year to the current level of 9%, and the progress is satisfactory. The above database will help us achieve the target of 15%.
311. Last year, we recruited a group of Youth Ambassadors in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland and provided them with opportunities for training and participation in local and overseas celebration activities, the results of which were remarkable. As such, the YDC will roll out the YDC Youth Ambassadors Scheme to identify and nurture, in a systematic manner, more young talents who are committed to and passionate about serving the community. The YDC will recruit around 100 young people to join the scheme every year and provide them with a series of diversified training, including international exchanges and training in prominent higher education institutions outside Hong Kong in order to prepare and groom the Youth Ambassadors to represent Hong Kong in international or large-scale activities and develop their leadership skills.
312. I hope that our young people will possess a sense of national identity and international perspective, and have hence stepped up our effort in providing internship and exchange activities of various types and themes on the Mainland and overseas. At present, there are on average over 70 000 Hong Kong young people participating in exchange and internship programmes on the Mainland and overseas each year that are organised, funded or co-ordinated by the Government.
313. Apart from collaboration with NGOs, the Government has forged partnership with 16 locally based major corporations early this year to launch the Scheme on Corporate Summer Internship on the Mainland and Overseas, providing quality internship opportunities in the Mainland and overseas countries to over 230 young students. In view of the success of the pilot scheme, we will expand the scheme next year to provide more internship opportunities in different places.
314. In view of the remarkable achievements of the Thematic Youth Internship Programmes to the Mainland launched last year, the HAB collaborated with the Palace Museum and the Wolong National Nature Reserve once again this summer, and partnered with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Dunhuang Research Academy for the first time, to organise four thematic youth internship programmes. Unique, in-depth and valuable internship opportunities were made available for young people to expand their knowledge in the relevant disciplines and professional fields and deepen their understanding of the country’s development. Looking ahead, we have secured the agreement of the aforesaid institutions to continue their participation in the programme and will also actively explore other possibilities.
315. Our overseas ETOs will continue to implement the overseas internship programmes for Hong Kong higher education students15 and encourage local organisations to provide internship places, with a view to providing more opportunities for our students to understand the work culture in different places and broaden their perspective.
316. The Working Holiday Scheme has all along been very popular among our young people. At present, the Scheme covers 13 countries. So far, more than 88 000 Hong Kong youngsters have visited various countries to enrich their experience and over 11 000 overseas young people have come to Hong Kong. The Government will continue to establish Working Holiday Scheme arrangements with more countries and actively promote the Scheme so that more Hong Kong young people can have the opportunity to broaden their horizons.
317. We will continue to collaborate with the United Nations Volunteers to co-organise volunteer internship programmes and sponsor Hong Kong university students to undertake voluntary assignments in the overseas field units of various United Nations agencies every year. In 2019, we will arrange for university students to take up voluntary internships in six countries, including Kazakhstan, Laos, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, in order to develop their personal capabilities, deepen their appreciation towards the cultures of different areas and contribute towards the development of the world.
318. The Government will continue to implement the Youth Hostel Scheme to meet the aspirations of some working youth in having their own living space and maintain close liaison with the relevant NGOs. We are taking forward these projects to provide a total of around 3 000 hostel units. The first youth hostel in Tai Po is expected to be completed and open for use next year.