Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC Releases Findings of A Study on Education and Career Pathways of Ethnic Minority Youth in Hong Kong


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (22 June 2020) released the findings of “A Study on Education and Career Pathways of Ethnic Minority (EM) Youth in Hong Kong”.

Although Hong Kong is renowned as a multi-cultural city and has been a place of settlement for foreigners, ethnic minority people (EMs), particularly the South Asians and some South-East Asians remain in disadvantaged socio-economic positions in Hong Kong. To explore the factors related to the educational and occupational attainment of young ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, the EOC has commissioned the research team of the Centre for Youth Research and Practice at the Hong Kong Baptist University to conduct the study.

The study employs a mixed-method approach to provide a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to understand the views and experiences of different parties concerning the post-secondary transition of EM youth. The study includes three parts: (i) a student survey, (ii) individual and focus group interviews with EM youth and/or adults (including EM parents, teachers, and social workers), and (iii) a phone survey and individual interviews with employers.

The student survey results showed that EM students have higher aspiration and self-efficacies than ethnic Chinese (EC) students. Although families of EM students generally fare less well than families of EC students in terms of parental education and family income, EM students have a higher level of family social capital, as measured by parents’ discussing school matters with children, helping or checking children’s homework, attending school activities, discussing with children about their future career plans, and contacting with schools, as well as more peer support. It is also found that EM students from low concentration schools (with an intake of less than 10% of EM students in school) have more EC friends and higher perceived host receptivity. As perceived host receptivity is a significant factor of aspiration and self-efficacies of EM students, it is important to enhance host receptivity by fostering a social environment which is open to and welcoming people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Meanwhile, individual and focus group interviews with EM youth and/or adults reveals that pathways of education and career among EM youth in Hong Kong vary among different people. However, six factors are found to be vitally important in facilitating and/or impeding education and career attainment of EM youth, including accuracy and sufficiency of information, cultural stereotype and mutual understanding between EC and EMs, language ability, personal capacity and initiative, availability of and accessibility to social resources, and financial situation.

Our phone survey with the employers indicated that about 77% of employers possess awareness of the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), but no racial discrimination is reported by employer participants either in hiring process or at workplace. In general, employers agree that EM employees possess low proficiency in Chinese reading and writing and it is understandable not to hire locally educated EMs (5.13 and 5.45 respectively on a scale of 0 to 10). More than one-third of employers (36.0%) claimed to use Chinese only in the recruitment advertisement. Most employers also have low intention to use EM employment services provided by the Labour Department and NGOs.

Dr Rizwan ULLAH, Deputy Convener of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC, said, “Through in-depth interviews, employers’ considerations of hiring are identified and categorised. Firstly, some employers hire EMs mainly because EM employees can help employers achieve specific organisational goals and filling in some positions. Secondly, for a majority of employers, there is a series of obstacles to hiring EMs, including inadequate Chinese literacy, unfavourable public image, segregated recruitment channels and negative previous experience with EMs.”

For the initiatives to promote ethnic diversity and inclusion, most employers expect the Government and EOC to enhance promotional work and consultation. To encourage EM employment, employers hope that the Government would provide an incentive for a certain period of time and that internship schemes for EM students at different levels can be strengthened.

“To conclude, young people with ethnic minority background are experiencing obvious obstacles in their school-to-work transitions. These obstacles are mainly due to structural difficulties in acquiring Chinese language in a less favourable language environment and system; having less opportunity to participate in important and meaningful events that are facilitative for earlier educational and career goal setting because of language and practical barriers; less likely to access employment openings and be considered as eligible potential employees in many cases, and to a certain extent misunderstanding or being stereotyped due to their racial background.” said Dr Rizwan ULLAH.

Based on the findings of the Study, the EOC and the Research Team have made a series of recommendations:

1. Improving Chinese language proficiency among EMs
• Tailor-made Chinese language curriculum at different levels, enhancing EM students’ oral, listening, reading and writing abilities
• Pedagogical support for teachers in all kindergartens with EM students
• Quality and systematic Chinese language courses for working EM youth and those who have just arrived at Hong Kong

2. Expanding employment possibilities and opportunities
• Multilingual job-matching platform for employers and EMs and tailor-made measures and promotion practices
• Expanding internship programmes for EM students
• Financial incentive schemes to incentivise employers to hire EMs for a certain period of time
• Further review of entry requirements of Chinese proficiency for civil service

3. Strengthening the support network
• Enhancing EM parents’ access to information related to education, career, financial assistance of the Government, as well as the benefits of school activities
• Cultural competency training for teachers and social workers
• Sharing platform for connecting EM students with their senior counterparts
• Increasing number of EM staff with adequate training to provide information and support to EM parents and children

4. Cultivating a multicultural environment
• More exchange activities at schools and communities
• Using alternative terms such as “people from multicultural background” in addition to “EM” in order to give a sense of inclusion

Research report and “Education and Career Pathways of Ethnic Minority Youth in Hong Kong: A Practical Guidebook” are available at: https://www.eoc.org.hk/EOC/GraphicsFolder/InforCenter/Research/content.aspx?ItemID=16730

Photo caption:

Dr Rizwan ULLAH, Deputy Convener of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC (third from left), Mr CHONG Yiu-kwong, Co-opted Member of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC (first from left), Dr Ferrick CHU, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC (first from right), along with Dr Simon CHAN (second from left), Dr CHAN Bing-kwan (third from right), Dr Esther CHO (centre) and Dr CHAN Yee-may (second from right) from the research team of Hong Kong Baptist University presented the findings and recommendations of the Report at the press conference today.


Equal Opportunities Commission
22 June 2020