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    Research focusing on evolution in the workplace

    During the last decade, countries across Asia have experienced fundamental changes caused by a combination of new technologies, shifting economic forces, and the impact of Covid-19.

    Understanding what it means for the workforce is not always easy. But scholars at Lingnan University have been tracking trends, analysing key factors, and stating their views on what to expect next.

    Some of these research projects can be grouped under the heading of employment, youth transition and well-being in Hong Kong.

    However, the work also takes account of international and comparative dimensions and how higher education systems in Asia should evolve to meet new challenges.

    For instance, governments encourage greater focus on courses designed to speed up the transition to a knowledge-based economy. They want more entrepreneurial, innovation-driven graduates ready to enter the workplace.

    That is great in principle, but amid the Covid-linked slowdown in hiring, these efforts have exacerbated the problems of graduate unemployment or underemployment.

    Analysis shows the rapid increase of people qualified in favoured disciplines has outpaced actual market demand. And that realisation has sparked public policy debate and extensive academic research into the social and economic consequences.

    To contribute, Lingnan University formed a research team to explore different aspects. These ranged from the “massification” and privatisation of higher education to the changing social production of labour. They also included the transition made by young people entering the workplace and youth well-being in a time of stress and uncertainty.

    In line with Lingnan’s “Impact with Care” philosophy, each research project is linked to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These give countries a clear roadmap for the 21st century and promote partnerships that can address regional and global issues more effectively.

    In that respect, Lingnan has established strong research links with prestigious partner institutions in Europe and Asia. The list already includes centres at the University of Oxford and the University of Turku in Finland, plus the Graduate School of Education at Peking University.

    An immediate benefit of such tie-ups is the platform they provide for professors and postgraduates to test out theories and exchange ideas. But they also create opportunities to co-host international conferences, collaborate on papers, and publish findings in highly respected peer-reviewed journals.

    Three recent publications by Professor Ngai Pun, head and chair professor of Cultural Studies in the Department of Cultural Studies, neatly illustrate the scope of the research.

    One examined the making of the new Chinese working class, whose efforts and struggles are significantly reshaping the future of class relations in China.

    Another involved a critical policy analysis of unemployment insurance in Hong Kong. And a third addressed the question of mobilising truck drivers in China, with its implications for the new migrant struggle and the emergence of “infrastructural capitalism”.

    Other scholars have studied the effectiveness of working from home during Covid; the psychological distance among Hong Kong’s working adults with regard to the Greater Bay Area; and personal income and happiness in a rich global city.

    All the latest Lingnan University publications related to employment, youth transition and well-being can be found in the webpage.

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