Fifteen years after returning to Chinese rule, Hong Kong still provides a major attraction for British expats.
The territory left British control in 1997, but the number of Britons applying to work there is shooting up.
Last year a record number of work visas were granted to expat jobseekers under the Immigration Department’s general Employment Scheme.
British and American expats continue to lead the charge among foreign workers. Work visas issued to UK citizens jumped 45 per cent to 3,907, while for Americans they rose 96 per cent to 4.290.
Last year marked record highs for applicants of both nationalities, according to Immigration Department figures.
Hong Kong, which is well positioned geographically and culturally to China, is a major financial hub, employing thousands of finance professionals.
Other major employment opportunities lie in senior management positions within multinationals and teaching positions for native English speakers.
Expats are further enticed by low taxes, efficient public transport and the widespread use of English.
But Alan Pettifer, a British expat who has lived in Hong Kong for 20 years, said: “While it still has a lot going for it the downside has increased more than the upside. Hong Kong has increasingly bad air pollution, not enough international schools while property prices are exorbitant for most families.
“I’ve been here too long to think about moving but younger expats have the options of Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing to choose from these days.”
During the decade, total work visas issued annually under the government’s general Employment Scheme grew 65 per cent from 18,520 to 30,557 last year.
Simon Walker, Asia director at global recruitment specialists Hydrogen, said: “In certain areas there are acute skills shortages, and in these cases some firms are considering international talent where the domestic talent pool is unable to keep up with demand.
“This is not a new trend but the rapid pace of growth in Asia has accelerated the gap between supply and demand.”
Salaries in Hong Kong compare favourably to other major financial centres, but lower taxes also give workers a 20 per cent to 30 per cent uplift in their take-home pay.
Fiona Foxon, managing director of international concierge service Quintessentially, said: “Hong Kong continues to attract strong global talent, which we are seeing with a ramp up in particular with an increase in talent from the UK. Hong Kong is a country that rewards hard work, enjoys life to the fullest, and offers something for everyone to make them feel at home.”
Category: Hong Kong