LegCo Panel on Manpower
Progress of measures to create jobs and tackle unemployment
Overall Unemployment Situation
The provisional unemployment rate for the period March - May 1999 was 6.3% per cent, and the provisional underemployment rate was 2.9 per cent. These are the same as the figures for the period February - April 1999.
2. The unemployment situation showed some stabilisation in the most recent months. Yet a close monitoring of developments is necessary, in the light of the entry of fresh graduates and school leavers into the labour market upon the start of the summer vacation.
Progress of measures
3. The following progress has been made on Government's measures to tackle unemployment and create jobs -
- Infrastructural Projects - A number of major infrastructural projects will create over 14,000 new job opportunities in the coming six months. These projects include the West Rail, MTR Tseung Kwan O Extension, construction of man-made wetland at Tin Shui Wai and related road development work, construction of main drainage channels for Ngau Tam Mei, the public health laboratory centre at Sham Shui Po, and the Shatin Government Offices Buildings, etc. In May 1999, 30 works contracts/consultancy agreements worth a total of $1.9 billion have commenced, and some 2,000 job opportunities comprising 200 at the professional/ supervisory level and 1,800 at the operative level will be created.
- Employment and Job Matching service - In May 1999, the Labour Department was able to secure 11,000 job vacancies. The number of successful placements for the month was about 3,500. The Job Matching Programme, which provides personalised job searching service, has registered 1,415 registrants, arranged 14,263 job referrals, and secured 732 placements.
The Interactive Employment Services (iES) on the Internet launched in March this year has been very well received by job-seekers and employers. It applies the latest Internet technology to provide a two-way service for job seekers and employers in matching job/candidate. In May 1999, a total of 148,500 visitors have visited the website, averaging about 4,790 per day. As at 31 May 1999, a total of 338,500 visitors have visited the website.
In view of the large potential market demand for domestic helpers, the LES has adopted a series of new initiatives in improving employment service in this area. Special service counters have been set up in all LES offices since February to assist job-seekers looking for domestic helper posts, and weekly domestic helper talks on job hunting skills and market information have been organised by all LES offices since March. The Home Affairs Department has also assisted in promoting the LES's employment services for domestic helpers through its network of district offices. As a result, from February to May 1999, the LES has secured 1,672 domestic helper vacancies and made 561 placements, representing increases of 44% and 83% respectively over the same period last year.
- Vocational Training/Employee Retraining - To address the needs of young school leavers, as from September 1999, the Vocational Training Council (VTC) will offer a new full-time Foundation Diploma Course to secondary 5 leavers with 3 passes in the HKCEE. The course curriculum will focus on upgrading the generic skills, especially communication and IT skills of trainees, in addition to teaching them job-specific skills. The Diploma Course and an equivalent part-time evening Certificate Course together will provide 2,760 places.
The VTC will also offer new two years full-time and three years part-time Certificate in Vocational Studies Courses (CVS) as from September 1999 for 1,400 secondary 3 leavers. The curriculum of CVS is designed to achieve a balance between general education and vocational training in the services or engineering stream.
To meet the increasing demand for construction workers generated by major infrastructural projects, the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) plans to increase the training capacity of its full-time short courses by 1,500 places during the 1999-2000 training year. This will provide increased opportunities for secondary 3 and secondary 5 leavers to acquire various job-specific skills demanded by the construction industry.
The special nine-month Certificate of Skills Training (Service Industries) Course (CST(SI)) run jointly by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) and the Vocational Training Council (VTC) will be completed by 30 June 1999. Concerted efforts by ERB, VTC and the Labour Department are being made to help graduates to secure employment. Employer/trade associations and individual employers have been approached. A Recruitment Forum, jointly organised by the ERB and the Labour Department, will be held on 29 June 1999 and a "Job Bazaar", jointly organised by the ERB and VTC, will be held in mid-July exclusively for graduates of the Course. The Labour Department has approached the graduate trainees and drawn their attention to the availability of the Local Employment Service and its Interactive Employment Services Website. Some 200 graduate trainees have so far been registered. An article on these graduate trainees will also be featured in the July issue of "Labour Focus", the Labour Department's newsletter, which will be sent to over 100,000 employers.
- Special Finance Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises - From 6 May to 10 June, 392 applications were approved under the Scheme. The amounts of guarantee approved and the loans involved were about $241 million and $369 million respectively, which represent an increase of 69% compared with the month before, during which the loans involved were about $218 million. As at 10 June 1999 since the Scheme was launched, a total of 2,017 applications have been approved, involving $1.13 billion of guarantee approved and $2.17 billion of loans.
4. The Government is concerned with the high unemployment rate of young persons aged between 15 - 19 and is examining ways to provide additional training and pre-employment services to young school leavers. The Government's proposal on a "Youth Pre-Employment Programme" is set out in a separate paper submitted to Members.
Education and Manpower Bureau