The Government seeks to enhance Hong Kong young people's understanding of the development and opportunities in the Mainland as well as to foster their sense of national identity through internship and exchange programmes in the Mainland as well as entrepreneurship programmes in the Greater Bay Area.
The Government has launched the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland since 2014-15 to provide sponsorship to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in organising internship programmes in the Mainland. The scheme aims to enable young people to a gain deeper understanding of the labour market, work culture and career prospects in the Mainland. It also aims to help young people set their career goals, gain more work experience and establish interpersonal networks, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in employment in the future. In 2019-20, the Home Affairs Bureau will provide funding of around $120 million through the Funding Scheme to support 149 youth internship projects in the Mainland. It is expected that about 3 800 young people will benefit from the scheme. In particular, the Guangdong-Hong Kong Internship Programme under the Funding Scheme has been extended to cover all nine Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area in 2019, benefiting around 1 000 young people.
In collaboration with cultural, natural conservation and scientific research institutions in the Mainland, the Government organised four Thematic Youth Internship Programmes to the Mainland in 2018, namely the Youth Internship Programme at Palace Museum, Youth Internship Programme at Wolong National Nature Reserve, Youth Internship Programme at Dunhuang, and Youth Internship Programme at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The programmes have provided diverse internship opportunities under specific themes for about 70 Hong Kong young people, to cultivate their relevant professional knowledge, exposures and skills. The aforesaid four programmes were completed successfully. In light of the favourable feedback, the Government plans to organise the four programmes again and to launch two additional new programmes in 2019, namely, Youth Internship Programme at Wuyishan National Park on biodiversity conservation, Youth Internship Programme at Beijing Organising Committee for 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Youth Internship Programme at Qingdao on marine science. Following last year's practice, the internship programmes at Palace Museum and Wolong would again involve respectively the participation of young people from Guangdong, Macao and Hong Kong and the participation of young people from Guangdong and Hong Kong, thereby promoting youth exchanges in the Greater Bay Area.
To offer more quality internship places for Hong Kong young people, the Government has launched the Pilot Scheme on Corporate Summer Internship on the Mainland and Overseas in 2018 in collaboration with major local enterprises. With the introduction of the pilot scheme, more internship opportunities in the Mainland including in the Greater Bay Area, the Belt and Road countries and other overseas countries will be offered to Hong Kong young people. In view of the success of the pilot scheme, the Government had expanded the scheme in the summer of 2019, under which 18 participating major companies in Hong Kong provided internship placements in various provinces and municipalities on the Mainland and in nine overseas countries for around 250 Hong Kong young people. This has provided more internship opportunities in different places for Hong Kong young people.
The Government provides sponsorships for NGOs to organise exchange programmes with specific themes, such as history, culture, arts, science, sports, economy, livelihood and social system, so as to enhance Hong Kong young people's understanding of the Mainland and strengthen their sense of national identity. NGOs can also organise volunteer services in the Mainland. Among the 319 exchange programmes in 2018-19, 52 of them have arranged visits to the nine Greater Bay Area cities, accounting for a total sponsorship of about $11.7 million. It is estimated that about 4 000 young people benefit.
A $300 million Youth Development Fund has been established by the Government to provide financial support in the form of matching funds for NGOs to support Hong Kong young people to start their own businesses and explore different opportunities in Hong Kong and the Mainland, including the Greater Bay Area. Two new funding schemes for Experiential Programmes at Innovation and Entrepreneurial Bases and for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area were launched in March 2019 to provide more relevant start-up support and incubation services to Hong Kong young people who intend to start their own businesses. Both schemes were met with enthusiasm and received applications from more than 40 NGOs.