Some very senior leaders I have spoken to recently, from both the private and public sectors, are quick to dismiss the alarming unemployment rate among fresh graduates in Hong Kong as just another recession-related anomaly that will correct itself when the economy picks up. They said the Class of 2020 is no different from the Financial Crisis Class of 2009, or the Sars Class of 2003, when the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic hit.
I respectfully – and wholeheartedly – disagree. The Class of 2020 is not your typical recession-hit class. This year brings new challenges that need to be addressed with fresh perspectives, rather than stopgap measures that may have worked in the past. The problems may persist (or get worse) well into the Class of 2021 and beyond, creating a disengaged generation with chronic unemployability. This is sad but true; this structural problem, if left unaddressed, would become