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Editorial : IMD report is cause for alarm

【明報專訊】IN the World Talent Report 2018 published by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland, Hong Kong's ranking has fallen sharply by six places to 18th position. The city has also been replaced by Singapore at the top of the rankings for Asia.

The IMD report looks at the performance of 63 regions from three perspectives: "Investment and Development", "Appeal", and "Readiness". To put it simply, "Investment and Development" reflects a region's long-term internal impetus. "Appeal" focuses on the availability of good conditions for talent, while "Readiness" emphasises whether there is enough talent to meet the need. True, different rankings have different limitations and bias in terms of methodology. Switzerland, for example, has topped the list for five years in a row in the IMD talent report, which Americans and Germans might not accept wholeheartedly. However, the fact that the same organisation, using the same set of criteria, has concluded that Hong Kong's scores have fallen in all areas should not be treated lightly by the government.

According to the report, Hong Kong still performs decently in areas such as attracting foreign highly-skilled personnel and retaining talents. However, given the fact that it is lagging significantly in public expenditure on education, there are worries that it might be in decline in the future. Chief executive Carrie Lam has said that she expanded recurrent spending on education by $8.3 billion, which covered education at early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The government will devote resources to the training of talent more proactively, she said. Given the government's sound finances, it absolutely has the ability to invest more heavily in education. The crux of the matter is how to make the best use of resources to achieve the greatest results.

The report mentions that it is mostly European nations that are the most competitive in terms of talent, and the primary reason is the high level of investment in education. Take Denmark, which has the highest score in "Investment and Development". The country's public expenditure on education accounts for 6.9% of its GDP. The percentage for Hong Kong is just 3.3%, and the city is ranked 56th among 63 regions. True, many of the European countries in the front rank of public spending on education have a welfarist background, and it is difficult to transplant their high tax rates and high levels of public spending into Hong Kong. However, at a time when even South Korea and Malaysia are dramatically increasing spending on education and have upped such spending's percentages of the GDP to 5.1% and 4.5% respectively, it is obvious that Hong Kong should boost such spending too. The crux of the matter is how to ensure that the resources are used where they are needed. In this aspect Hong Kong should learn from Singapore.

The Greater Bay Area can provide a wider and more diverse stage for Hong Kong people's development. A broader vision can be outlined in the government's training of talent. Hong Kong enterprises, at the same time, have to do away with their myopic attitudes and enhance on-the-job training. The report shows that when it comes to investment in talents, the two subcategories that have fallen more noticeably are apprenticeships and employee training. This shows that Hong Kong enterprises' lack of proper regard for on-the-job training will definitely affect the pool of talent in the future. As Hong Kong's appeal diminishes, talent from abroad might not come again. The government must tackle the problem accurately to arrest the decline.

明報社評2018.11.21:人才培訓不進則退 港排名急跌響警號

瑞士洛桑管理學院(IMD)發表《2018年世界人才報告》,香港排名急跌6級,降至第18位,亞洲第一地位由新加坡取代。

IMD人才報告從「投資與發展人才」、「吸引與留住人才」及「人才準備度」三方向,審視63個地區表現。簡言之,人才投資反映的是一個地方長遠內生動力;吸引人才着眼的,是為人才提供良好環境;人才準備度側重的,是當下是否有足夠人才滿足需要。任何排名研究在方法學上都有局限和偏差,例如根據IMD人才報告,瑞士連續5年稱冠,美國人和德國人就未必心服。不過同一機構根據同一標準,得出香港評分全方位下跌的結論,政府顯然不能漠視。

報告表示,香港在吸引海外專業人才、維持當下人才供應充足方面,仍有不俗表現,惟考慮到教育公共投資顯著落後,未來恐有衰落之憂。行政長官林鄭月娥表示,上任後已增加83億元教育經常開支,涵蓋幼教、中小學和專上教育,政府會更積極投入資源培訓人才。政府財力充裕,絕對有本錢增加教育投入,關鍵是如何善用資源,發揮最大效益。

報告提到,人才競爭力最強地區大多是歐洲國家,主因之一是教育投資水平高。以人才投資範疇評分最高的丹麥為例,當地教育公共開支佔GDP的6.9%,相比下本港比例僅為3.3%,在63地中排名56位。誠然,教育公共開支位居前列的歐洲國家,很多都有福利主義背景,它們的高稅率高公共開支模式,香港很難照搬,然而當韓國和大馬都大幅增加教育開支,佔GDP比例分別高達5.1%和4.5%,香港顯然需要「加碼」,關鍵是如何確保資源花得到位,這方面香港應向新加坡學習。

大灣區可以為港人提供更廣闊更多元的發展舞台,政府培訓人才,眼界可以放得更闊。同時,本港企業亦應捨棄短線心態,加強在職培訓。報告顯示,本港人才投資方面評分跌幅較大的細項,是企業實習和在職訓練,反映本港企業對在職培訓不夠重視。現在香港人才投資做得不夠好,必然影響未來人才準備度;香港吸引力下降,外來人才未必再來。政府必須對症下藥,始能煞住頹勢。

■Glossary

wholeheartedly : completely, in an enthusiastic way

transplant : to move sb/sth to a different place or environment

arrest : to stop a process or a development

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