YHK is honoured to invite Miss Alice Mak, Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs to this exclusive sharing about her thoughts and plans for the youth in Hong Kong in the upcoming months.
As remarked by President Xi Jinping at the meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, when the young people thrive, Hong Kong thrives. When the young people grow, Hong Kong grows. When there is a future for the young people, there is a future for Hong Kong.
Young people are the future, hope and pillars of Hong Kong. They are also the engine that drives the long-term development of society and the economy. The Government has all along attached great importance to youth development. We strive to assist young people in overcoming hurdles in education, employment, entrepreneurship and home ownership so that the younger generation will see hope and opportunities for upward mobility. To effectively take youth work forward, the Government established the Youth Development Commission (YDC) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) in 2018 to enhance policy coordination within the Government and enable a more holistic and effective examination of and discussion on issues of concern to young people. To further enhance our effort to support youth development. the new term Government has established the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau (HYAB) to focus resources and formulate overall youth policy and a Youth Development Blueprint, and to set policy objectives for the healthy and diversified development of young people with a view to improving their upward mobility.
As mentioned above, the HYAB will formulate an overall youth policy and a Youth Development Blueprint to address the issues of concern to young people. As a matter of fact, the new term Government has commenced preparatory work for the formulation of the Blueprint. As the first important guiding document on the promotion of youth development formulated by the Government, the Blueprint will outline the vision, guiding principles and major directions of Hong Kong’s overall youth development work, covering the four areas mentioned in the question. In accordance with evidence-based and target-oriented principles, it will set out the respective targets of future work, specific actions, initiatives and indicators.
Over the past three years, Hong Kong has faced severe challenges, prompting us to rethink the positioning and focus of our youth work. On the one hand, we should establish more effective channels to gauge the views of young people of different backgrounds in order to help them overcome hurdles in areas such as education, career pursuits, entrepreneurship and home ownership and create more opportunities for them to develop and flourish. On the other hand, we need to put emphasis on nurturing young people’s positive thinking to help them develop positive values, and enable them to become a new generation with national pride, a sense of ownership and responsibility, and with an aspiration and willingness to strive for the future of our country and of Hong Kong.
As mentioned above, the Blueprint is the first important guiding document formulated by the HKSARG to promote youth development. Over the coming months, the Government will, in collaboration with the Youth Development Commission, reach out to the youth and other stakeholders to gauge their views and suggestions in relation to the Blueprint. More importantly, as the Blueprint serves as a living document, hence the youth engagement process will also be a continuous and evolving process. While we target to publish the first edition of the Blueprint by the end of the year, we will continue to engage young people by different means and tap their views, with a view to reviewing and revising the content of the Blueprint in a timely manner to ensure it keeps abreast of the times and addresses the need of youths promptly. In other words, the Blueprint will provide a platform for the Government to continuously engage young people and respond to their needs.
We strike to continue to press ahead with, improve and optimise the above initiatives as well as roll out new initiatives to meet the needs of young people. These improved / new initiatives would be promulgated in the coming Policy Address. Furthermore, we are working at full steam to prepare the Youth Development Blueprint and we aim to issue the first edition of the Blueprint by the end of this year.
The District Services and Community Care Teams (Care Teams) is an important initiative of the current-term Government. We plan to set up Care Teams across the territory to support the Government’s district work and promote community mutual assistance, thereby increasing social capital and community cohesion. Not only will the Care Teams provide caring activities and services on a regular basis, they will also render support in emergency assistance.
Planning for the Care Teams is in full swing. More details will be released later this year.
As mentioned by the Chief Executive in his inaugural speech, development is the golden key to resolve social problems. The Government will comprehensively raise the competitiveness of Hong Kong and promote economic development. We are confident that in the process of economic development, we will create more development opportunities for young people. This will not only enable young people to unleash their potential and achieve their personal development goals, but also contribute to Hong Kong’s future.
To further enhance our effort to support youth development, the new term Government has established the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau (HYAB) to focus resources and formulate overall youth policy and a Youth Development Blueprint, and to set up policy objectives for the healthy and diversified development of young people with a view to improving their upward mobility.
To promote positive thinking and well-being of youth people, a new funding scheme will be launched by end 2022 tentatively to sponsor NGOs to organize projects that are conducive to nurturing young people’s positive thinking. Another new funding scheme will also be launched by end 2022 tentatively to sponsor NGOs to provide systematic and quality adventure training for young people in a structured manner.
Besides, youth uniformed groups (UGs), with youth membership of around 110 000 at present, are major partners of the Government to help foster positive values, strengthen leadership skills and attain whole-person development of young people. Through recurrent subvention, HYAB supports youth UGs to provide informal education and training to young people.
We have also promulgated the Multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship (MES) since 2014 to support local students undertaking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examinations who excel in sports, arts and/or community service to pursue undergraduate studies in universities and locally-accredited degree-awarding institutions in Hong Kong. The MES has helped promote a culture of multi-faceted excellence and benefit young talents, thus facilitating their upward mobility.
The Youth Hostel Scheme (YHS) aims at unleashing the potential of under-utilised sites held by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to meet the aspiration of some working youth in having their own living space. We are grateful for HKFYG’s dedicated efforts in participating in the YHS. The Tai Po Youth Hostel (PH2), operated by HKFYG, has been operating in full swing since 2020. We are very glad to note that the youth hostel is highly welcomed by the tenants as well as the community.
The Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth (MSSY) provides more opportunities for young people to participate in policy discussions. Since the implementation of the MSSY, about 480 posts are held by young people who have been appointed to ASBs directly or indirectly through the MSSY.
We have been organising youth internship activities in the Mainland through the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland (Funding Scheme) so that young people may gain a deeper understanding of the employment market, work culture and development opportunities therein. Before the pandemic, about 3 700 young people benefitted from the Scheme every year.
As regards youth exchange, we subsidise, through the Funding Scheme for Youth Exchange in the Mainland, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to organise Mainland exchange projects for young people in order to enhance Hong Kong young people’s awareness and understanding of their home country, fostering exchange with the Mainland people and strengthening their sense of national identity. Prior to the pandemic, the scheme sponsored over 15 000 Hong Kong young people to participate in the various thematic Mainland exchange activities every year and sponsored around 3 000 Mainland young people to visit Hong Kong, with Hong Kong young people playing host.
We are closely keeping in view the development of the pandemic, the cross-boundary quarantine requirements between the Mainland and Hong Kong in future, and will arrange for the resumption of our internship and exchange activities when it is safe and practicable to do so and in compliance with the relevant anti-epidemic measures in the Mainland.
To promote youth innovation and entrepreneurship, we rolled out two funding schemes under the Youth Development Fund, namely, the Funding Schemes for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Entrepreneurship Scheme) and the Funding Scheme for Experiential Programmes at Innovation and Entrepreneurial Bases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (the Experiential Scheme) to provide entrepreneurial support to young people. We are glad to note that HKFYG has participated in the Entrepreneurship Scheme as well.
The response to the Entrepreneurship Scheme has thus far been very positive. All of the funded NGOs have successfully recruited a total of 217 youth start-ups with a wide range of areas of business covering research and development on innovation and technology, retails, information technology, etc.
Subject to the relaxation of the anti-epidemic measures in the Mainland, we will arrange for the youth entrepreneurs to visit the entrepreneurial bases in the Mainland cities of the GBA as soon as possible.