Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading international financial centres, a top world trading entity and home to one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world. In this article we’ll look at Hong Kong in general, how to recruit in Hong Kong and what life is like as an expat there.
Hong Kong: history and geography
Hong Kong is located on China’s south coast. It is east of Macau on the opposite side of the Pearl River Delta. Hong Kong is an autonomous territory in China. While it is not a different country, the two places are governed differently which is why it is often referred to as a ‘one country, two system’ structure.
Hong Kong has a population of near 7.2 million in a territory of just 1,104 km2, making it the world’s fourth most densely populated country or territory. The languages spoken in Hong Kong are Cantonese and English.
A large proportion of Hong Kong’s terrain is hilly or mountainous, resulting in less than 25% of the territory’s landmass being developed. About 40% of the land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves. The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it imports most of its food and raw materials.
Political and social background
Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading international financial centres, and as such has a major capitalist service economy which is characterised by low taxation and free trade.
With a GDP per capita of US$43,473, it is an easy place to do business and trade. The service sector dominates the economy. Although economically beneficial for businesses, Hong Kong is considered to be an expensive place to live. The cost of living is particularly expensive because housing can cost a lot owing to the high population density, meaning plentiful living space is very costly.
The territory is a meeting point of both Asian and Western cultures, from its historical relationship with Britain. This combination of cultures make the city a dynamic and vibrant place.
Hong Kong also boasts its own Disneyland theme park, visited by tourists from all over the world.
Current job market
In terms of business language, in Hong Kong this is often carried out in English. With that said, it is a definite competitive advantage to speak Cantonese on top of this.
The unemployment rate is at 3.1%. Despite this there is a high level of income inequality, with the minimum hourly wage failing to cover basic amenities.
The typical working week is 9–5 weekdays (or longer, depending on the business), with an occasional half-day required on Saturday. Workers regularly put in long hours and overtime, with this sometimes reaching 50+ hours a week.
Public transport is very efficient, clean and cheap, and the cost of parking spaces mean that many people don’t own a car, which is something to take into consideration.
Visa and permits needed
To work here, you will generally need to be sponsored by an employer for your work permit. British citizens can visit the area Visa-less for up for 6 months but in order to secure employment you have to have the correct visa. To obtain this, you must generally possess specialist skills, knowledge or experience of value to, and not readily available in, Hong Kong.
You will typically need to have a job offer before you travel to Hong Kong and if you find a job when you’re in the country you’ll have to leave and re-enter on the correct visa.
There is also the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) which attracts highly skilled people to settle in Hong Kong. If you qualify, you don’t have to secure a job before travelling to the country. The scheme has a quota and works on a points-based system.
While the average monthly salaries are about HK$15,000 (US$1,935), foreigners tend to earn more since they are hired typically in positions that can’t be filled by the local labour force.
The statutory minimum wage for non-domestic workers is HK$34.5 (~US$4.43) per hour.
After 12 continuous months of employment, Hong Kong workers are entitled to 7 days annual leave, with this progressing to 14 days according to length of service.
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We wish you luck with your recruitment campaign in Hong Kong!
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Author: Cara Moore
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