Panel on Manpower(Papers) 23 Dec 98

LegCo Panel on Manpower
Progress of measures to create jobs and tackle unemployment

Introduction

This paper sets out the latest progress on the measures to tackle unemployment and create jobs, as well as additional employment opportunities which have been announced by the Task Force on Employment.

Progress of measures to create jobs and tackle unemployment

2. The latest progress is set out in the following table:


MeasuresProgress
AJob Creation

Progress of job creation as a result of Government's policy initiatives, investments and measures

According to Government's recent assessment, there will be at least some 100,000 new jobs in the labour market from May 1998 to end-1999, largely as a result of the Government's key policy initiatives and major infrastructure or other projects, and partly because of the needs of the Civil Service. These 100,000 jobs comprise 11,000 civil service posts estimated to be created up to 31 March 1999, and 89,000 other jobs in the subvented and private sectors.

Of the 89,000 non-Government jobs, some 33,000 will be created by end-1998, about 31,000 during the first half of 1999 and another 25,000 during the second half of 1999.

On the basis of the latest information on major areas of job creation, some 15,000 jobs have already been created as at mid-September 1998. These 15,000 jobs include some 3,000 civil service posts which have been filled as at early July, and around 12,000 non-Government jobs which have been created as a result of various projects and measures the Government has implemented by mid-September. Some 21,000 additional jobs in the non-Government sectors are therefore expected to be created between mid-September and end-1998.

The Government is finalising a comprehensive update on this job creation assessment and this is expected to be completed in January 1999.


Extra measures to create jobs
1Advancing commencement of public works projects
  • Since May 1998, 177 works contracts/consultancy agreements worth a total of $10 billion have commenced and some 13,100 jobs comprising 2,100 at the professional/supervisory level and 11,000 at the operative level have been created.

  • Considering the possibility of advancing some more projects.
2Expediting expenditure on minor Government maintenance works
  • Started minor maintenance works worth a total of $98 million.

  • 1,050 jobs created as of 1 December 1998.
3Expanding and accelerating district-based environmental improvement projects
  • 44 temporary works supervisors have been employed since 9 November 1998 for managing the works projects and supervising the works contracts.

  • Contracts for 9 projects have been awarded as at end-November 1998, creating 48 jobs.
4Direct Grant of the former Tamar Site to the Hong Kong Tourist Association(HKTA) for facilitating the staging of recreational, entertainment and tourism-oriented activities, resulting in job creation.
  • Metro Broadcast Co. and HKTA staged weekend events - "City of Life - Harbour Fun Carnival" on the site in October and November 1998.

  • Other events are being planned to be staged on the site. Five organisations will organise activities in the coming four months, including the 33rd Hong Kong Products Expo, the Chinese New Year Parade, and the HK Lanterns and Temples Festival. Other organisers have indicated interest in staging activities such as exhibitions, carnivals, games and entertainment on the site in 1999.
5Major repair and maintenance works for aided schools leading to the creation of 3,730 new jobs between mid- 1998 and end-1999. These new jobs include 420 carpenters and joiners, 650 plasterers, 510 plumbers, 510 painters, 210 electricians, 1,060 general labourers and 370 blacksmiths.
  • Some of the works contracts have been awarded and the rest will be awarded in batches.

  • Around 2 190 new jobs for various construction trades have been created by the end of November 1998 and another 510 additional jobs are expected to be available in the forthcoming months.
6Allocate a particular site with an approximate area of 20 000 square metres to the south of the former Kai Tak Airport Terminal Building to a non-Government organisation for operating a flea market on a non-profit-making basis, as a pilot project, during weekends and public holidays for three to six months, from early January 1999 onwards.
  • The Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) issued a press release and notice in several newspapers on 1 and 2 December 1998 respectively to invite proposals from organisations interested in running the flea market. A Government Notice was also published in the Gazette on 4 December 1998. By the close of submission period on 10 December 1998, three proposals were received. EMB is examining these proposals in consultation with other relevant departments.
7To implement the following three community building projects, which will create 3 590 new jobs (for Temporary Community Organisers) from 1 December 1998 to 31 March 1999:promotion of private building management; promotion of fire safety; and survey on the housing condition of new arrivals.
  • The Home Affairs Department has, in conjunction with the Labour Department, been recruiting the 3 590 Temporary Community Organisers from late November 1998 onwards. Around 3 580 applications have been received and about 940 vacancies filled so far.
BStrengthening and improving the Labour Department's employment and job matching service
8Strengthening the Job Matching Programme(JMP)
    Capacity of JMP doubled from 2 July 1998, with an additional team of two staff at each of the 11 Local Employment Service (LES) offices of the Labour Department.

  • In November 1998, the JMP registered 1,709 registrants and arranged 10,884 job referrals. 708 placements were secured, as compared to 579 in the previous month.
9Providing telephone referral and vacancy processing service for job-seekers
  • Services commenced at all 11 LES offices from 6 July 1998. In November 1998, LES received a total of 8,964 telephone calls from job-seekers seeking job referral service. 5,147 referrals were arranged.

  • In November 1998, LES obtained consent from 1,584 employers involving 4,204 vacancies (i.e. 37.8% of the total number of vacancies received) to display their information at LES so that job-seekers can contact them direct for arranging job interviews. During the month, employers cancelled their open orders for a total of 1,615 vacancies. A large percentage of these vacancies are believed to have been filled by job-seekers who contacted the employers direct for job application.

  • The Department will set up a Telephone Employment Service Centre in North Point by end of December 1998 with a view to further strengthening the telephone referral service. To enhance operational efficiency, a Job Vacancy Processing Centre will also be set up to centralise the receipt and processing of vacancy orders, as well as the dissemination of vacancy information to LES offices.
10Installing more self-serve touch-screen computers
  • Completed the installation of additional computers at all LES offices and 10 Labour Relations Service offices in October 1998.
11Launching an Employment Information and Promotion Programme
  • The Programme commenced in August 1998.

  • As of 30.11.98, visits and promotional activities under this programme have reached out to 702 employers and 15,640 job-seekers.
CEnhancing vocational training and employees retraining
12Setting up a "One-stop" unit at the Employees Retraining Board(ERB) to assist both the unemployed and employers
  • ERB has provided two telephone hotlines -- one for employers and the other for employees -- from 9 July 1998. Up to 30 November 1998, a total of 4,876 and 18,370 telephone enquiries respectively from employers and employees were handled and 3,105 vacancies registered.

  • 3 906 potential retrainees approached the "one-stop" service team for consultation and/or submission of applications for various retraining courses. Whenever required, officer-rank staff provide in-depth information on courses available, location of training bodies and placement results of relevant retraining courses to help applicants select appropriate courses that suit their own interests and abilities.

  • The one-stop service team also provides enhanced follow-up service for employers approaching the ERB for enquiries or assistance.

13Launching a special nine-month Certificate of Skills Training(Service Industries) Course for 1,000 unemployed persons to be run jointly by the ERB and the Vocational Training Council (VTC)
  • Classes commenced on 14 September 1998, with 600 places provided by the Technical Institutes and 400 by training bodies.

  • Graduate trainees with Secondary 3 education will be allowed to apply for three civil service posts--Clerical Assistant, Supplies Attendant and Supplies Assistant.
14Special training programme for the maritime industry jointly run by the VTC and ERB for the unemployed
  • The first class of the special seafarer training course for 21 trainees commenced on 9 September 1998. The first part of the classroom training was completed on 16 December 1998. Trainees are being placed in jobs in the industry.

  • Preparation for the next course is in hand.
15Implement a special one-year full-time Vocational Studies Certificate programme for 1000 Secondary 5 leavers at the various Technical Institutes of the Vocational Training Council in October 1998
  • The additional 1,000 places are spread over 10 one-year courses. Of these, two are existing courses while eight are new ones. The new courses aim at facilitating graduates either to secure jobs direct, or to pursue further studies.

  • Classes commenced on 12 October 1998.
16Increase by 392 over the existing total of 1,124 training places (i.e. to 1,516 places, comprising 600 full-time and 916 part-time) for Secondary 5 leavers at the Construction Industry Training Authority(CITA) in 1998/99
  • The one-year full-time Construction Supervisor/Technician Training Programme commenced in mid-September 1998, providing a total of 600 training places.

  • Six of the various Short Courses suitable for Secondary 5 leavers (totalling 916 training places) and lasting for about three months commenced in mid-September 1998. A substantial number of applications for the remaining short courses scheduled to commence later have been received.
17Enhance the retraining-cum-job matching programmes for domestic helpers and child-minders under the Employees Retraining Board (ERB).
  • Through ERB's one-stop service (with a centrally managed telephone hotline) which came into operation on 9 July 1998, the ERB received 3,630 enquiries, 1,228 vacancies and placed 344 retrainees as domestic helpers as at the end of November 1998.

  • From April to November 1998, ERB has organised a total of 141 training courses on domestic helpers for 2,791 persons. Of the 843 retrainees who completed such training courses from April to July 1998, 609 were placed in domestic helper jobs. The average placement rate is 72%.

  • ERB is working closely with its training bodies in coordinating the process of matching trainees with domestic helper vacancies in different geographical districts.

  • In order to publicize the training, a marketing flyer was developed and issued in late October 1998. An Announcement of Public Interest (API) on the Employees Retraining Scheme with a special focus on domestic helpers training has been featuring on television since mid-October 1998.

DPromoting further education
18Expanding the capacity of taught post-graduate(TPg) courses at the institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC)
  • Five UGC-funded institutions have over-enrolled about 460 students in their TPg programmes in the 1998/99 academic year.
19Extending the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme to benefit some 61,000 additional tertiary students
  • Proposal approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on 17 July 1998.

  • Since implementation on 28 September 1998, 758 applications have been approved.
20Increase the number of Secondary 5 places in Government evening schools by up to an additional 1000 places as from September 1998, depending on the actual demand
  • Classes commenced on 16 September 1998.

  • Education Department is operating 25 classes of Secondary 5 in five school premises to provide 1,000 additional places.
ETightening measures to combat illegal employment
21.Amend the Immigration Ordinance to hold construction site controllers criminally liable if persons not lawfully employable, including two-way permit holders, breach their condition of stay by taking up employment on construction sites.
  • An amendment bill has been introduced in the Legislative Council on 4 November 1998.

  • In the meantime, Immigration Department will continue with its vigorous enforcement efforts such as conducting large-scale operations, and the Labour Department will conduct more inspections at workplaces to clamp down on illegal employment more effectively and efficiently.

Special relief measures to boost the economy

3. In addition to the above measures, the Government announced on 22 June a package of special relief measures to boost the economy, i.e. between the first two meetings of the Task Force. A summary of these measures and their latest progress is as follows:


MeasuresProgress
AEasing the Credit and Liquidity Crunch
1.Exempt from 22 June 1998 profits tax interest income earned from deposits placed locally with authorised banking institutions
  • Effective from 22 June 1998.

2.Provide HK$2.5 billion to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain loans from lending institutions
  • The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on 31 July 1998 approved a commitment of $2.5 billion for the setting up of a Special Finance Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises. The Scheme was launched on 24 August 1998.

  • As of 8 December 1998, a total of 604 applications has been referred to the Government by participating lending institutions. With the exception of five applications which havebeen withdrawn by the applicants, all of the applications have been approved. The guarantee approved and the loan involved amount to $426 million and $862 million respectively. The Government intends to conduct a comprehensive review of the Scheme in early 1999. The aim of the review is to assess the feedback of the Scheme; whether the Scheme has met its objective of assisting SMEs to obtain financing; and whether and how improvements should be made.

BStabilising property prices
3.Suspend all land sales by auction and public tender till 31 March 1999
  • Effective from 22 June, 1998.
4.Double the allocation for "Home Starter Loan Scheme" in 1998-99 from $3.6 billion to $7.2 billion so that twice the number of households (i.e. from 6,000 to 12,000) will be able to become home owners
  • The Finance Committee (FC) of the Legislative Council approved the proposal on 31 July, 1998.
5.The Housing Authority to consider increasing the quota for the "Home Purchase Loan Scheme" from 4,500 to 10,000 in 1998-99.
  • The Housing Authority approved on 23 July 1998 the increase of quota from 4,500 to 10,000 for the next 12 months up to July 1999.
C.Easing costs of families and business
6.Reduce duty on diesel by 30% from 23 June 1998 to March 31 1999
  • Taken effect on 23 June, 1998
7.Reduce declaration charge for imports from 0.035% to 0.025% and for domestic exports from 0.05% to 0.025%
  • Taken effect on 1 August, 1998.
8.Rebate the first quarter rates paid in 1998-99
  • The rebate will be credited against the October to December 1998 quarterly rates bill if there has been no change in ratepayers since April 1998. For other cases, a refund of the rates paid will be arranged as soon as the ratepayers status is clarified.
DSharing the economic difficulty of the community
9.Freeze salaries adjustment of D3 officers and above in the civil service, Government-subvented organisations, the Judiciary, and the ICAC whose salary adjustments follow exactly those in the civil service.
  • Taken effect on 1 April, 1998.

The Way Forward

4. The Government will continue to work closely with members of the Task Force on Employment, employers, employees, training institutions, legislators and all concerned parties to draw up effective and appropriate measures to identify additional job and training opportunities with a view to helping the unemployed rejoin the workforce as soon as possible and sustain their employability in the longer term.

Education and Manpower Bureau
December 1998