The Hong Kong government will be generously injecting money into schemes to give students more internship opportunities and exchange trips to the mainland.
In his budget speech at today’s Legislative Council, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced that he will allocate HK$100 million to organise activities and internship opportunities in the insurance and wealth management services sector.
Government departments will also increase their short-term internship places by 30 per cent to 3000. 250 internship places in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries will also be available this year, an increase from 90 spots last year.
Joy Pamnani, 16, says she would be interested in interning with the government. "I think the government wants to get perspectives from young people on how to improve it," said the PLK Ngan Po Ling College student.
Tsang also said he would allocate an additional HK$205 million over the next three years for young people to participate in mainland exchanges and internship programmes. Joy thinks the money would be better spent tackling issues such as poverty and housing. "I think supporting mainland exchange tours is just a move for CY to impress the central government, show Beijing he’s still on their side," she says.
HK$71.4 billion will be spent on education this year, the government’s largest spending area. This includes HK$960 million to support self-financing undergraduate students and a yearly injection of HK$475 million to increase the intake of senior-year undergraduates from 4000 to 5000 students per year by the 2018-19 academic year.
Henry Lui, 15, who studies at Sha Tin College, says many new job-seekers are still unable to find good jobs despite already having a university degree. "A lot of them are quite skilled and are still paid quite a measly salary," he says.
Extra effort to encourage local young people to join the construction industry comes in the form of an extra $100 million for the Construction Industry Council to train local workers, in addition to the $320 million already injected over the past five years.
Several measures are also made to offset the economic impact of last year’s "Umbrella Movement". Tsang will offer 6-month licence fees waivers to 1800 travel agents, 2000 hotels and guesthouses and 26000 restaurants and operators.
To boost tourism, the government will work closely with Disney and Ocean Park to build more facilities. Disneyland’s "Iron Man Experience" and Ocean Park’s waterpark in Tai Shue Wan are expected to be complete in 2016-17. New hotel projects are also underway at the two parks.