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 The city has also been replaced by Singapore at the top of the rankings for Asia.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







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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