LegCo Panel on Manpower
Meeting on 27 May 1999
Progress of measures to create jobs and tackle unemployment


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.

New job opportunities created as a result of Government's policy initiatives, investments and measures

2. Over 37,000 new job vacancies have been created or filled from May 1998 to end 1998, as a result of the Government's key policy initiatives and major infrastructure or other projects.

3. Some 122,000 new jobs and vacancies are expected to be generated in the labour market, from 1999 to 2000, by major government initiatives and projects. These 122,000 jobs comprise 8,500 government posts estimated to be filled by 31 March 2000, and 113,500 jobs in the subvented and private sectors.

4. In addition, at least some 32,000 new jobs are expected to be generated in the near to medium term by the proposals announced in the 1999-2000 Budget.

Progress of measures to create jobs and tackle unemployment

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

Progress To DateLatest Progress

A. Job Creation
1Advancing commencement of public works projects
  • From May 1998 to 31 March 1999, 288 works contracts/consultancy agreements worth a total of $21.4 billion have commenced, and some 24,000 jobs comprising 4,000 at the professional/supervisory level and 20,000 at the operative level have been created.
  • In March 1999, 30 works contracts/consultancy agreements worth a total of $3.1 billion have commenced, and some 3,500 jobs comprising 600 at the professional/ supervisory level and 2,900 at the operative level have been created.

  • Considering the possibility of advancing some more projects.
2Expediting expenditure on minor Government maintenance works
  • From May 1998 to 31 March 1999, 1,200 jobs have been created.
  • 50 jobs created in March 1999.
3Expanding and accelerating district-based environmental improvement projects
  • From November 1998 to 31 March 1999, 44 temporary works supervisors have been employed for managing the works projects and supervising the works contracts.

  • From October 1998 to 31 March 1999, a total of 185 contracts worth a total of $43.9 million have been awarded, creating about 1,570 jobs.
  • In March 1999, contracts for 28 projects worth a total of $10.9 million have been awarded, creating about 538 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.
  • In the second half of 1998, the following events had been held at the former Tamar site : a pop concert named "Hong Kong City of Life -- Stars Spectacular "98" (23 August 1998); "City of Life -- Harbour Fun Carnival" (October and November 1998); and the 33rd Hong Kong Products Expo (18 December 1998 to 11 January 1999).

  • For the first quarter of 1999, two events were staged: Hong Kong Lantern and Temple Festival (5 February to 3 March 1999) and the Chinese New Year Parade (16 February 1999).

  • Around 300 temporary jobs were created by these two events.
  • For the second quarter of 1999, two events will be staged at the former Tamar Site : an automobile festival (30 April to 2 May 1999) and the Pooh Friendship Day (16 May 1999).

  • The National Day of the People's Republic of China Celebration Carnival will be held on 1 October 1999.

  • The Hong Kong Action Expo Asia "99 will be held on 15--18 October 1999.

  • It is expected that the above events would create about 600 temporary jobs.
5Major repair and maintenance works for aided schools.
  • From July 1998 to 31 March 1999, a total of 3 090 jobs have been created.
  • In March, around 140 new jobs for various construction trades have been created.
6Community building projects, which will create new jobs (for Temporary Community Organiser) from 1 December 1998 to 31 March 1999:

Promotion of private building management;

Promotion of fire safety; and

Survey on the housing conditions of new arrivals.

  • From November 1998 to 31 March 1999, a total of 8 241 applications have been received and about 3 294 TCO vacancies have been filled.

B Strengthening and improving the Labour Department's employment and job matching service
7Strengthening 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.

  • From July 1998 to March 1999, the JMP registered 14,175 registrants and arranged 85,062 job referrals, and 5,590 placements were secured.
  • In March 1999, the JMP registered 1,635 registrants, arranged 14,008 job referrals, and secured 737 placements.
8Providing efficient telephone referral and vacancy processing services for job-seekers and employers
  • A Telephone Employment Service Centre in North Point was set up on 21 December 1998 to further strengthen the telephone referral service for job-seekers, which has been introduced since July 1998. This has improved the services to job-seekers to a large extent.

  • A Job Vacancy Processing Centre was also set up on 21 December 1998 in North Point to centralise the receipt and processing of job vacancy orders, and the dissemination of vacancy information to LES offices. This has substantially enhanced the services to employers.

  • From July 1998 to March 1999, LES received a total of 76,554 telephone calls from job-seekers seeking job referral service, and have arranged 55,912 referrals. The LES has also obtained consent from 15,898 employers involving 36,278 vacancies, i.e. 39.1% of the total number of vacancies received, to display their particulars at LES so that job-seekers can contact them direct for arranging job interviews.
  • In March 1999, LES received a total of 7,023 telephone calls from job-seekers seeking job referral service, and have arranged 12,115 referrals.

  • In March 1999, LES obtained consent from 3,346 employers involving 7,591 vacancies, i.e. 55.7% of the total number of vacancies received, to display their particulars at LES so that job-seekers can contact them direct for arranging job interviews.
9Easy Registration procedure
  • From 8 February 1999, the Labour Department has introduced the easy registration procedure at all LES offices to ensure that first-time registrants only have to fill in a registration form in order to make use of the telephone employment service at home on the following working day.

10Launching an Employment Information and Promotion Programme to strengthen the promotion of the LES and the collection of job vacancy information
  • Since the Programme was launched in August 1998, a variety of promotional activities including exhibitions, job bazaars, recruitment seminars, briefings and visits to employers have been organised. As at 31 March 1999, it has reached out to 1,336 employers and 26,299 job-seekers.
  • In March 1999, the programme has reached out to 265 employers and 7,500 job seekers.
11Installing more self-served touch-screen computers
  • Completed the installation of additional computers at all LES offices and 10 Labour Relations Service offices in October 1998.

12Interactive Employment Services on the Web providing two-way service for employers and job-seekers
  • From 11 March 1999, the Labour Department has launched a new, interactive employment service on the Department's Employment Services website to feature information of registered job seekers as well as vacancies. The website is equipped with specially designed search engines to provide job seekers with personalized job matching service and help disseminate their resumes so as to enhance their employability. On the other hand, the web service assists employers to shortlist suitable candidates through the Internet.
  • As at 31 March 1999, a total of 33,327 viewers have viewed the website.
13Enhancing the employment services for domestic helpers
  • The LES has adopted a proactive approach in soliciting domestic helper vacancies. For example, leaflets are mailed to large housing estates introducing LES services relating to domestic helpers.

  • Since 8 February 1999, a special service counter has been set up in each of all LES offices to provide enhanced job-matching services for local job-seekers looking for domestic helper posts. At these counters, a designated Placement Officer helps the job-seekers to find jobs in the neighbourhood.

  • With effect from 16 March 1999, all LES offices organise two "Domestic Helper Talks" every week to teach job seekers job hunting skills and provide them with market information.

  • The Labour Department was able to get 21% more job vacancies for domestic helpers in the second half of 1998 as compared to the first six months of the year.
  • In March, there were 544 domestic helper vacancies, and 160 placements were made.

  • The "Domestic Helper Talks" has reached out to 353 employers/job-seekers since its commencement in March.

  • The Labour Department has issued a leaflet on good practices of domestic helpers to help job-seekers and employers understand the essential code of the work.

  • The Home Affairs Department has assisted in promoting the employment services for domestic helpers through its network of district offices and community organizers.
14Publishing a leaflet on job hunting skills for job-seekers
  • A leaflet on job hunting skills, such as interview techniques, is being prepared for job-seekers to enhance their chances of securing a job.
15Intelligent Call Centre
  • The Labour Department is undertaking a project to upgrade its General Enquiry Telephone Service into an Intelligent Call Centre with the latest computer telephony integration technology. It is planned that from mid 1999, the new Call Centre will come into operation with a total of 130 telephone and fax lines, as compared with 58 lines under the existing system.

C Enhancing Vocational training and employees retraining
16Setting up a "One-stop" unit at the Employees Retraining Board(ERB) to assist both the unemployed and employers
  • From 9 July 1998, ERB has provided two telephone hotlines' one for employers and the other for employees.

  • From July 1998 to 31 March 1999, a total of 9,495 and 35,115 telephone enquiries from employers and employees respectively were handled and 6,551 vacancies were registered by the hotlines.

  • With enhanced promotion and extension of office hours to 7pm and during lunch hours, as at 31 March 1999, a total of 7,382 potential retrainees have approached the "one-stop" service team since July 1998.
  • The two hotlines receive favourable response from both employers and employees. Publicity of the service is enhanced through advertising in radios and issue of posters etc.

  • In March 1999, a total of 1,795 and 4,756 telephone enquiries from employers and employees respectively were handled and 1,108 vacancies registered.

  • In March 1999, 1,134 potential retrainees have approached the "one-stop" service team.
17Launching 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.
  • 916 students completed the first term while 907 students completed the second term. The third (i.e. the final) term is now in progress. As at the beginning of the third term in early April, 905 students were on the course. The course will be completed by the end of June 1999.

  • VTC is now considering launching suitable courses on part-time evening basis for graduates of the course to enhance their employability.

  • Active efforts are being made to help graduate trainees find jobs.
18Special 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 main classroom training was completed on 19 December 1998.
  • Among the 15 graduates, 6 have already joined and the remaining are expected to join the maritime or related industry, e.g. as sailor or Junior General Purpose Rating etc.
19 To develop more placement-tied training programmes to secure more employment opportunities for the unemployed
  • Tailor-made programmes are offered to individual employers or groups of employers/trade associations with 15 or more job vacancies in specific trade/industry, including those from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These courses will be strictly placement-tied in specific jobs with strengthened follow-up service for retrainees.

  • Emphasis will be put on new or growth areas with high potential of job offers, such as security/property management, information technology, and elderly care.

  • Where appropriate, On-the-Job Training (OJT) Scheme will also be introduced to allow retrainees to receive in general a monthly allowance of $2,000 for 3 months upon placement. This helps them to acquire the experience required to earn the market wage in their initial employment and hence to hold down their jobs

  • As placement is more or less pre-arranged, the placement rates for tailor-made courses are particularly high.
  • The training capacity for tailor-made programmes has been almost doubled from 911 places for 1997-98 to some 1,700 for 1998-99. Publicity of these programmes is also enhanced through the press, the media and by means of exhibitions or publications.

  • A series of new courses, including tailor-made programmes, are being organised or under preparation with employers and/or trade associations, including the newly commenced course on information technology technical assistants, and the forthcoming ones for Chinese medicine dispensers, China trade personnel, shoe-makers, the fisheries workers and personal care workers for the elderly homes.

  • From April 1998 up to October 1998, the average placement rate for special tailor-made courses is 79%, while the rate for some courses may even reach 90/100%.
20Implement 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, 2 are existing courses while 8 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.

21 Increase training places for Secondary 5 leavers at the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) in 1998/99
  • The one-year full-time Construction Supervisor/Technician Training Programme for Secondary 5 leavers commenced in mid-September 1998, with a total of 645 trainees enrolled onto the course against a capacity of 600 places.

  • The various Short Courses suitable for Secondary 5 leavers (totalling 916 training places) and lasting for about three months commenced since September 1998 in accordance with the planned capacity. (The total capacity of all full-time short courses was expanded from 2,314 places in the 1997-98 training year to 4,425 places in 1998-99 training year.)

22Enhance the retraining-cum-job matching programmes for domestic helpers under the Employees Retraining Board (ERB)
  • As at 31 March 1999, the ERB's one-stop service received a total of 8,426 enquiries and 3,141 vacancies on domestic helpers since July 1998.

  • Publicity has been strengthened to enhance the public image of the profession of domestic helpers through the offer of professionalised retraining programme for domestic helpers.

  • During FY 1998-99, ERB has increased its training capacity for domestic helpers from 2,046 in the first half of the year to 3,550 in the latter half, representing a sharp increase of 74%.

  • The ERB has set up Course Steering Groups and Trade Advisory Groups to standardize the courses with modular approach, with the objective of professionalizing the training.

  • The ERB has stepped up its efforts in placing the retrainees, for example by helping to arrange "job-packages" comprising different part-time jobs within proximity. The placement rate for domestic helpers retraining programme is around 74% for the period April 1998 to October 1998.
  • In March 1999, the ERB's one-stop service received 1,613 enquiries and 528 vacancies on domestic helpers.

  • A large-scale publicity event, the "Employment and Retraining Information Expo" was held on 26/27 March 1999. Similar exhibitions will be staged in various parts of Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories throughout the year.

  • More training centres on Hong Kong Island have started running domestic helpers training courses to meet market demand in the district. The number of training centres has increased to 8, including two new ones in Aberdeen and the Western District.

  • The training capacity is estimated to increase by some 20% from 5,600 for 1998/99 to 6,700 for 1999/2000.

  • The Course Steering Group for domestic helpers training has already come up with a standardised training package. Efforts are now being made to enlist the support of the relevant trade associations to provide practical training facilities for the course.

D Promoting further education
23Expanding 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.

24Extending the Non-Means-Tested Loan Scheme to benefit more tertiary students
  • Proposal approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on 17 July 1998

  • As at 31 March 1999, 2,100 applications have been approved and $45 million has been offered since implementation of the measure on 28 September 1998. The average loan amount is $21,360.
  • In March, 210 applications have been approved and the amount of loan offered is $3.2 million.
25Increase the number of Secondary 5 places in Government evening schools 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.

E Tightening Measures to combat illegal employment
26Amend 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.
  • The Immigration (Amendment)(No. 2) Ordinance 1999 was passed by the Legislative Council on 27 January 1999. The Ordinance took effect from 12 February 1999.

  • Immigration Department has stepped up its efforts in large-scale enforcement actions. 346 enforcement actions have been conducted during January to March 1999.

  • The Labour Department has stepped up inspections at workplaces to clamp down on illegal employment more effectively and efficiently. During January to March 1999, 39,664 inspections have been conducted and 78,440 employees have been inspected with respect to their identity.
  • In March 1999, 99 enforcement actions against illegal labour were conducted by the Immigration Department.

  • In March 1999, 14,828 inspections were conducted by the Labour Department, and 29,443 employees were checked with respect to their identity.

  • A seminar on the amendment Ordinance will be held for the Hong Kong Construction Association in May 1999.

Special relief measures to boost the economy

6. In addition to the above measures, the Government announced, on 22 June 1998 and in the 1999-2000 Budget on 3 March 1999 respectively, packages of special relief measures to boost the economy. A summary of these measures and their latest progress is as follows:

MeasuresProgress To Date
A Easing the Credit and Liquidity Crunch
1Exempt from 22 June 1998 profits tax interest income earned from deposits placed locally with authorised banking institutions
  • Effective from 22 June 1998.
2Provide 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, which was launched on 24 August 1998.

  • As at 8 April 1999, a total of 1,313 applications referred to the Government by participating lending institutions have been approved. The cumulative amounts of guarantee approved and the loans involved are about $777 Million and $1,585 Million respectively.

  • During 6 March to 8 April, 244 applications referred to the Government by participating lending institutions have been approved. The amounts of guarantee approved and the loans involved from 6 March to 8 April are about $99 million and $205 million respectively.

  • A comprehensive review of the Scheme to assess the feedback from various sectors and to examine ways to improve its operation has just been completed.
B Stabilising property prices
3Suspend all land sales by auction and public tender till 31 March 1999; resume land sales gradually.
  • Suspension to take effect from 22 June, 1998.

  • Land sales to resume from April 1999 after review.
4Double 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. Up to end March 1999, more than 12,000 Certificate of Eligibility have been issued under this scheme.
5The 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
6Reduce duty on diesel by 30% from 23 June 1998 to March 31 1999; extend the reduction to until 31 March 2000.
  • Taken effect on 23 June, 1998 and 1 April 1999 respectively.
7Reduce declaration charge for imports from 0.035% to 0.025%; and for domestic exports from 0.05% to 0.025%; reduce declaration charge for re-exports from 0.05% to 0.025%.
  • Taken effect on 1 August, 1998 and 1 April 1999 respectively.
8Rebate the first quarter rates paid in 1998-99
  • The rebate has been credited against the October to December 1998 quarterly rates bill for cases involving 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.
9Reduce by 50% the rates payable in the July to September quarter in 1999, saving ratepayers $1.8 billion
  • Take effect on 1 April 1999.
10Immediately refund 10% of the 1997-98 final assessments for salaries tax, profits tax and property tax at a cost of $8.5 billion.
  • Refund cheques have been sent to taxpayers.
11Substantially reduce merchant shipping registration and related fees
  • The fee reduction is expected to attract more local, Mainland and overseas shipping companies to come to Hong Kong to register their ships and set up companies to manage their ships.

  • Taken effect on 1 April 1999.
12Provide an option to obtain a three-year Business Registration Certificate at a cost of $5,200 compared to the present annual renewal cost of $2,000
  • Taken effect on 1 April 1999.
13Extend the freeze on government fees and charges for a further six months
  • Taken effect on 1 April 1999.
14 Exempt transit passengers departing on the same day from air passenger departure tax
  • Taken effect on 1 April 1999.
15Exempt the proceeds of life insurance policies paid in Hong Kong from estate duty
  • Taken effect on 1 April 1999.
D Sharing the economic difficulty of the community
16Freeze 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.
17 Freeze civil service pay in 1999.
  • FS announced in the 1999 Budget that civil service pay will be frozen with effect from 1 April 1999. The Pay Trend Survey will continue and is expected to be completed in May. The Government will then make reference to the survey results to see if further adjustment is necessary.

The Way Forward

7. 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
May 1999