Today I met up for lunch with a friend of mine I haven't seen in years.
She has been working in the hotel industry for many years and in her senior position has hired a number of people.
However, she finds more and more young Hong Kong people are not willing to start from the very bottom and work their way up, unlike previous generations.
They feel that armed with a degree they should be entitled to positions they feel will help them climb the career ladder they have planned for themselves, however misguided some of them are.
Some have even told her that in X number of years they expect to be general manager of the hotel.
As a result, they are very picky about the jobs they want to take, even though there is lots of work available.
For example, the front desk staff must have a university degree, but many young people are not willing to stand at least eight hours a day doing this job.
They have even less interest in other service jobs like being a wait staff in the restaurant or other physically demanding jobs. They much prefer desk-bound work, such as working in the catering office or communications department.
On the other hand, she periodically brings in junior staff from China from other hotels in the same group for training and finds they are very hard working and intelligent people. They learn quickly and enjoy their stay in Hong Kong so much that they wish they could remain in the city, but due to Hong Kong immigration laws, the hotel can't sponsor them for a work visa because they are too junior.
I asked if she could argue the case that the hotel has an increasing number of mainland Chinese guests and therefore need more staff from China, but she said that reason didn't build a strong enough case.
So she worries about how the service industry in Hong Kong is going to survive, a concern I've also mentioned in this blog before. Hong Kong right now is mostly based on the service industry -- from hotels to tourist destinations, restaurants and shops.
If no one is willing to do these jobs, who will?