Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 236


EOC’s latest study suggests ethnic minority youth lack opportunities, not ambition

Although Hong Kong’s ethnic minority youth have higher aspirations for their education and career than their Chinese counterparts, employers generally agree that job applicants are still being screened on the basis of race, according to a new study released by the EOC on 22 June 2020.

Entitled “Education and Career Pathways of Ethnic Minority Youth in Hong Kong”, the study was commissioned to and conducted by the Centre for Youth Research and Practice at the Hong Kong Baptist University, with the aim of identifying effective policies for strengthening institutional support for young people from ethnic minority backgrounds transitioning to post-secondary education or employment.

Adopting a mixed-method approach, the study was comprised of a survey of 909 F.4-6 students of Pakistani, Nepalese, Indian, Filipino and Chinese backgrounds, focus groups and individual interviews with ethnic minority youth, interviews with their parents, teachers and social workers, as well as a survey of 406 employers (341 SMEs and 65 large enterprises) and interviews with 10 employers.

It was found that despite having a stronger belief in their ability to attain their educational and career goals than ethnic Chinese students, ethnic minority students face entrenched and structural barriers in pursuing those goals, such as struggles with learning Chinese, unequal access to information such as job adverts, and unconscious bias among employers. The uneven playing field has helped to perpetuate the socio-economic disadvantage of ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong.

The study makes a host of recommendations to create a more equitable environment for ethnic minority youth to develop and realise their potential.These include stepping up pedagogical support for kindergarten teachers, tailor-making a Chinese language curriculum for ethnic minority students at different levels, establishing a job-matching platform in multiple languages and introducing incentive schemes for employers to hire EMs, among others. The research team has also worked with the EOC to develop a practical guidebook for ethnic minority youth seeking to explore their options and finding the support they need. Click the links below to find out more.