Legislative Council Panel on Manpower Meeting
On 22 April 1999

Training and Retraining Strategies to meet the manpower requirements of major industries in Hong Kong


The purpose of this paper is to inform Members of the retraining and training strategies adopted and proposed by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) and the Vocational Training Council (VTC) respectively.

A : Retraining

2. The mission of the ERB is to provide quality retraining courses and services to the unemployed and those who may face unemployment so as to enhance their future employability and meet the needs of Hong Kong's economy. To meet this goal the ERB adopts a series of strategies which are market-driven, flexible proactive and value-added. These are described in the paragraphs that follow.

(a)Enhancing the quantity and quality of courses and services

  • The ERB will be expanding its training capacity by offering more full time job-specific skills courses to enable job-seekers to rejoin the labour force early. To ensure that the courses offered are both diversified and market-driven, the ERB is reviewing existing training programmes and developing new ones in areas of potential employment growth such as information technology assistants, domestic helpers, personal care workers and security guard/building attendants.

  • For the major course categories the ERB has set up Course Steering Groups comprising representatives from the training bodies. Their aim is to overhaul the retraining programmes for the purposes of restructuring, modularization, and standarisation of courses and the possible development of a common assessment system. In parallel, Trade Advisory Groups will also be established, with the participation of employers and trade associations, which will be able to advise on the market demand for and evaluation of the relevant training programmes. The long term objective is to achieve recognition of the skills level attained by retrainees through the development of a competence-based qualifications framework which is being developed by the Education and Manpower Bureau in conjunction with the ERB and the VTC.

  • Apart from basic skills requirements, employers also expect potential employees to possess good "soft skills". With this in mind, the ERB is developing new core modules, including one on "soft skills" that covers work attitude, service culture, interpersonal communication skills and team spirit, among other things, as well as modules that provide basic generic skills such as computer knowledge and vocational language training.

(b) Extending the scope of service

  • Since 1 April 1998 the ERB has relaxed its admission criteria so that persons below the age of 30 or who possess upper secondary level education, or above, may also apply for full-time retraining programmes should they encounter employment difficulties.

  • In the middle of 1998 the ERB set up a "One-stop service" through which employers might register their job vacancies for the referral of suitable graduate trainees. Retrainees may also obtain detailed information about the retraining programmes available and consult ERB staff for additional information where necessary. The ERB is also developing a network of Retraining Resource Centres which will offer a wide range of self-learning facilities and provide job market information to ERB clients.

(c) Labour market information

  • The ERB closely monitors the labour market, and has recently expanded its research and Development Department by recruiting an additional senior member of staff to coordinate various initiatives in this area. Course contents and placement results are reviewed regularly to ensure that training programmes match employers' requirements, and surveys are carried out from time to time on the manpower needs of specific industries.

(d) Strengthening the partnership with employers and stakeholders

  • The ERB places considerable emphasis on its partnerhsip with employers and stakeholders, with major employer associations and professional bodies having been invited to participate in the Employees Retraining Scheme. In addition, the ERB maintains close liaison with individual employers, trade and professional associations, and other stakeholders through visits, seminars and publicity campaigns so as to keep in touch with the latest market developments. The ERB has established a Coordination Forum comprising the heads of major trade associations to facilitate sharing market intelligence and information on the manpower needs of various trades and industries. Regular meetings are also held with major trade associations to exchange views on market intelligence and to enhance mutual cooperation.

(e) Enhancing cost effectiveness

  • The ERB is actively streamlining its budgeting and auditing arrangements with the training bodies so as to enhance the cost-effectiveness of the retraining programmes. The procedures for vetting and approval of budgetary proposals from the training bodies are also being re-designed and approved following the recommendations of two consultancy studies. The completion of the ERB computerisation project will also allow the more efficient delivery of services and the more comprehensive availability of management information.

(f) A positive corporate image

  • The ERB aims to enhance its role and corporate image through the wider promotion of retraining programmes by means of publications, exhibitions and other means.

B : Training

3. Following the significant restructuring of the Hong Kong economy in recent years, the VTC has realigned its training efforts to respond to the current and future needs of the economy. The VTC's training strategy and initiatives are highlighted in the paragraphs that follow.

(g) Shift from Craft to Technician Training, and Revamping of the Craft Course Curriculum

  • In the light of the diminishing demand for craftsmen and operatives and the increase in demand for technicians and technologists, the VTC is reducing the provision of craft foundation courses and increasing the provision of technician courses. The VTC will also revamp the existing craft foundation course by introducing new (a) basic craft courses and (b) the certificate in vocational studies (CVS). The former should equip young people with sound basic training for immediate employment in industry, while the latter courses are designed to provide an alternative route for Secondary 3 leavers to acquire the necessary generic and practical skills prior to employment.

(h) More In-service Training

  • The rapid pace of technological development and the demand for a multi-skilled workforce have generated an increasing demand for updating and upgrading training for in-service workers. To meet this need the VTC has provided such courses as :

      - merchandising courses at the Textile Industry Training Centre;

      - techniques (e.g. desktop publishing) courses at the Printing Industry Training Centre;

      - project engineering courses for the toy manufacturing sector at the Plastic Industry Training Centre;

      - courses for vehicle type workers at the Automobile Industry Training Centre;

      - LPG taxi servicing courses at the Gas Industry Training Centre and the Automobile Industry Training Centre.

(i) Flexible Training Schemes

  • The VTC is currently reviewing the apprenticeship scheme to ensure that it will continue to meet the needs of employers and the aspirations of young people and their parents. The VTC will also implement a Professional Development Scheme for the commerce and service sectors. The Scheme would adopt a flexible, modular and competence-based approach to facilitate those trainees who cannot attend full-time or part-time day release courses. Support for the scheme has been obtained from the banking, insurance, information technology, import/export and transport trades, and it is expected that the scheme will also be extended to other sectors such as hotel, tourism and real estate.
(j) Developments in specific areas of training

  • The VTC has decided to upgrade its existing training centres in the areas of information technology and financial services to become training and development centres. Besides providing upgraded training courses, the new Information Technology Training and Development Centre will provide industry support services for SME's, set up an IT information centre to collect and promulgate information on new IT technologies, and set up special interest groups for applied research on new technologies and the development and popularisation of software systems in specific economic sectors.

  • Similarly, the Financial Services Development Centre will embark on market research and offer high level professional development courses. It will also organise conferences and seminars on industry specific subjects.

(k) Trade Testing

  • The VTC proposes to enhance trade testing facilities for the electrical and mechanical services sector, and will consider extending trade testing to other areas having regard to input from the Training Boards and representation from employers and employees associations.

Education and Manpower Bureau
April 1999