The Hong Kong government is set to roll out a postdoctoral hub program in the third quarter of 2018 to boost the quality of tech talent in the city, Jane Lee, the secretary-general of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification, which is part of the government’s Innovation and Technology Commission, said May 30.
The program, which is part of the city's Technology Talent Admission Scheme, or TechTAS, will support incubators and innovation and technology tenants of Hong Kong's two technology hubs — the Hong Kong Science Technology Parks Cooperation and Cyberport, Lee explained.
Under the new initiative, the government will recruit up to two people with doctoral degrees in a STEM-related discipline from either a local university or a nonlocal institution, for research and development work. They will conduct research in various technology fields including biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, financial technology and material science.
In addition, Lee said the government has launched an internship program to help Hong Kong's technology and innovation companies tap young, local talent. Similar to the postdoctoral hub initiative, the internship scheme involves recruiting up to two local graduates as interns for R&D-related work.
Lee said the city is facing fierce global competition for quality technology talent. The government's three-year pilot TechTAS initiative aims to address this problem by fast-tracking arrangements for technology companies and institutions to admit overseas to technology and talent from the mainland.
"The main merits of TechTAS is that it will provide certainty through the quota allocation, a streamlined and much faster process and help nurture local technology talent as well as attract global expertise," Lee told the public at the briefing.
Hong Kong has faced a dearth of quality technology talent despite ongoing hype from the fintech and innovation startup space in the city.
With an average of about 2,200 IT graduates in Hong Kong entering the market every year and numerous rounds of layoffs at IT and technology departments across industries, the city must first fill the city's shallow talent pool of IT specialists to tackle industry issues related to diversity and inclusion, Leonard Chan, CEO of the Hong Kong Computer Society, said at the recent Cloud Expo Asia.
Meanwhile, Narayana Murthy, founder of India's software outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd., said that Hong Kong must focus on attracting "very well-educated Indian" tech talent, creating a borderless learning environment and an openness to accepting share options over basic salary in pay in order to rival San Francisco's Bay Area, according to a South China Morning Post report in April.