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Talented migrants laud HK life

February 08, 2015

Overseas talent

Overseas talent:  British Professional rugby player-turned-coach Peter Drewett (right) came to Hong Kong last summer under the Immigration Department’s General Employment Policy, joining the Rugby Football Union as a National Coach Development Manager.

Star power

Star power:  Mr Drewett (left) was brought in specifically to work with elite national coaches, and help them to coach to their highest ability.

Fresh input

Fresh input:  Royce Chan, the Hong Kong Women’s 7s Team Captain, says Mr Drewett brings a global perspective to the Hong Kong team’s game.

Permanent resident

Permanent resident:  Singaporean Kwok Chern Yue arrived in Hong Kong in 2007 under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme and now considers the city as his home.

Futuristic thinker

Futuristic thinker:  Marjorie Yang, an advisor to the Immigration Department on its selection of candidates, hopes the city can attract more professionals from the biotechnology, aeronautics or even agricultural technology sectors.

Professional rugby player-turned-coach Peter Drewett has played at the top levels of the sport including as part of the UK’s national club champions squad. He has also coached the winning Six Nations under 21s team in the grand slam championships. He brought his skills and enthusiasm for the game to Hong Kong from Britain last summer under the Immigration Department’s General Employment Policy.


“Hong Kong people are incredibly passionate about rugby, and I knew there were great things going on here in rugby and it just seemed a great opportunity to come over and be part of that process and help to grow something special for Hong Kong.”


Mr Drewett’s rugby pedigree impressed the scheme’s adjudicators, who approved his application to work with the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union as a National Coach Development Manager.


“I’ve been brought in specifically to work with the elite national coaches and help those coaches coach to the highest ability possible and also to work with the premiership professional coaches,” he said.


“Part of my role is to make sure that all the coach education that we do - from children all the way through to the elite coaches - is of a high standard, because the better our coaching is, the better our players will become and the more successful we’ll be on the world stage.”


Taking a chance 

It was a big step for Mr Drewett to leave his family in Britain, and despite not being able to speak Cantonese, he found the locals welcoming and friendly, making it easy for him to integrate quickly.


“The first week here, I thought: ‘Wow, what have I come to?’ Busy, hectic, massive buildings, didn’t know where I was going. By the third week I thought, ‘This is fantastic, I want to be here for a long time’.”


Hong Kong Women’s 7s Team Captain Royce Chan says Mr Drewett has shared his international rugby knowledge, helping her team to improve their game.


“We normally just play in Asia, we don’t see teams outside of the region often, so the system he brought from Europe and his teaching has made us a stronger team,” she said.


Finding a good fit 

Marjorie Yang has been Committee on Admission of Quality Migrants & Professionals Chairperson since 2010 and is a key part of the body that advises the Immigration Department on the applicants.


“I think we’ve imported a lot of talent in the sports area, but the ultimate goal is not just to get one or two stars who are going to win a few games for us, but the impact they will have on grooming the next generation, young people in Hong Kong, to understand the importance of sports,” she noted.


Kwok Chern Yue came here from Singapore in 2007. He is now a permanent resident and works as a research and development manager for a technology company that provides digital cinema systems.


“I definitely want to stay in Hong Kong. It’s not just about work or career development, but also the overall environment,” he said.


“Hong Kong is a good place to develop my career because of its proximity to Mainland China where everybody’s looking to China for new development and new business.”


Diverse talent 

In addition to the General Employment Policy, the Immigration Department introduced the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents & Professionals in 2003, and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme in 2006.


By the end of last year, both schemes had attracted more than 77,000 applicants. After a seven-year stay, successful applicants can become eligible for permanent residency.


Faced with an ageing population and a shrinking labour force, the Government plans to take a more proactive approach to recruiting talent and professionals from outside Hong Kong. The Immigration Department will be implementing measures outlined in this year’s Policy Address to relax the restrictions on employment and residency.


Mr Drewett said the measures could persuade him to stay on to attain permanent residency.


“If people are welcomed, as long as they’ve got the right qualities and experience to benefit Hong Kong, I think that can help everybody,” he said.


Ms Yang hopes that in future, the committee can help Hong Kong diversify into niche markets - such as aeronautics, biotechnology and agricultural technology – by attracting talented people.


“We can attract talent that can take us through this initial period while we get more of our own talent in these fields - our kids are very smart, they see opportunity, they will jump in - so our goal is to capture some of the Government’s initiatives and say, Okay, we’re short of talent here, let’s try and get some talent to fill this.”


Mr Drewett believes those who are given the chance to work in Hong Kong should grab the opportunity.


“I love the people, I love the energy of the place, I love the diversity of culture. So I just think it’s a fantastic place to come and work and anybody should take the opportunity. If you don’t have this experience, I think you’re missing something in life.”