Job prospects dim for South Asians in Hong Kong
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Job prospects dim for South Asians in Hong Kong

In an effort to encourage Hong Kong employers from age discrimination during recruitment process, the government has paid for TV ads that feature a fifty-something clerk who stood by the company through thick or thin so it was not hard to keep him on the payroll. Another ad showcased ages portrayed in billboard displays, sign posts, and more for employees hired for their competency and not for their age.
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/>I think those ads need one more dimension. Employers should also hire staff based on talent and not on color of skin. A survey shows that South Asian men have difficulty in landing jobs. In November, Hong Kong Christian Service interviewed 219 men from various ethnic backgrounds and aged between 18 and 61. Compared to the 5.1 percent unemployment rate within the general population, close to a quarter of ethnic minorities – notably South Asian – are unable to find employment (or even open a bank account). And for those who are employed, a large number of them are involved in heavy menial work with longer working hours and less pay.
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/>In Hong Kong, language requirement is one critical factor in landing a job. For people like me who can’t speak Cantonese and Mandarin, getting a job in customer support or sales will be difficult, if not impossible. But there are jobs that residents of South Asian descent – folks from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal or Sri Lanka –  still can’t get, even if they were born in Hong Kong, can speak the language properly and are perceived to be fit for the job.
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/>I don’t believe South Asians are so lazy that they can’t find jobs. In fact, we see many of them working on construction sites, road works and garbage collection – jobs that locals normally ignore. But I suspect that there is a bad association with South Asians, such as the illegal immigrants caught in waves in the New Territories. Such news may have negative repercussions on the job market, which is a very unfair way of treating ethnic minorities in a metropolis that prides itself as Asia’s World City. That said, even ethnic Chinese people resort to changing names in order to be accepted in the society.
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/>Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaboureau/
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