The government of Hong Kong has issued the much awaited “Talent List” to attract expatriates to address a biting manpower shortage including in innovative technologies like blockchain. The government will use an expedited immigration policy to ease labor shortage caused by a rapidly aging population to create a competitive edge.
Enhanced Technological Competitiveness
The “Talent List” released on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, listed 11 professional areas qualifying for bonus marks from experts applying for the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) that was inaugurated in 2006 to expedite successful applicants entry and settlement into specialized Chinese administrative regions without first securing local employment. The press release notes some specialized areas including:
“Innovation and technology experts in, but not limited to […] artificial intelligence, robotics, distributed ledger technologies, biometric technologies and industrial/chemical engineering.”
Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan had stated in his budget speech on February 28, 2018, that the Labor Bureau was planning for enhanced talent admission. Chan noted that the local 3 percent unemployment rate showed a tight labor market but decried the fact that the workforce was expected to shrink gradually thanks to the rapidly aging population and slowing down economic development:
“Manpower and talent shortages in the workforce have impeded Hong Kong’s economic development and competitiveness.”
The initiative will fast-track immigration processes and enables tech companies at the city’s two technology parks to hire IT and blockchain expatriates and have them working within four weeks. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and Cyberport have over 700 companies that will benefit from the scheme. The city’s Secretary for Innovation and Technology Yang Wei-hsiung said in May this year he believed the streamlined immigration procedures will help secure the right talent amid heightened global competition and elaborates:
“IT talent shortage is a global problem instead of a unique problem in Hong Kong. We are trying to grab hold of the so-called leader talent.”
The initiative comes when Hong Kong’s government is enhancing efforts to nurture a talent pool among eight key areas including the Distributed Ledger Technology. The city determined to boost IT development and enhance the blockchain technology adoption so the city can catch up with, boost its financial technology competitiveness and become an international technology hub. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, is already planning to roll out a Blockchain-based network among several banks starting September this year to facilitate trade finance transactions.