The following article excerpts have been translated by Kelvin Tse and adapted from the Wen Wei Po and Takungpao newspaper.
With Hong Kong as a prominent international business centre, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) attracts multinational corporations and aids small to medium sized businesses, providing quality infrastructure and support facilities for these companies. HKSTP, a government initiative, helps technology start-up companies lay the groundwork for success through training, consultation and research programs, including partnerships with universities on an international level.
Since 2003, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks has provided funding for over 100 work term opportunities for students. Because of a stronger domestic economic situation in Hong Kong, the number of local students applying for work terms has decreased dramatically in recent years, opening the door for an increase in international students – including those from Simon Fraser University in Canada.
Science and Technology Parks Senior Manager Helen Chung says students are being somewhat shortsighted when they give up the opportunity to learn on the job through a Co-op term in favour of graduating as soon as possible. However, the decrease in domestic applicants has meant more opportunities for international students to take advantage of the program. Canadian students are sacrificing higher wages in that country for the experience of living and working in new and challenging environments in Hong Kong.
Simon Fraser University 3rd year electrical engineering student Ricky Chau is presently completing a 1-year work term through the HKSTP as a Testing Engineer. According to Chau, wages in Canada tend to be around 50 to 70% higher than in Hong Kong. However Chau feels the work environment in Hong Kong is uniquely challenging.
“Even though I’m not certain if I will return to Hong Kong for work after I graduate, I feel that I’ve already learned a lot in a year of practical work experience here,” said Chau.
Also from Simon Fraser University, Interactive Arts and Technology student Patrick Woo believes Hong Kong start-up companies provide an especially rich learning experience for students. Since September, Woo has been on a 1-year work term with a local software development company. Because of the small size of these companies, students are required to do a bit of everything, which he says providing him with a sense of accomplishment, becoming more familiar with the work flow and company processes.
However, Woo also drew attention to the comparatively higher wages in Canada, noting that he is considering staying in country after graduation.