For discussion FCR(96-97)69
on 15 November 1996


Labour Department
New Subhead "Computer system for providing employment services"
Information Technology Services Department
New Subhead "Bureau computer service 1997-98"
Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to approve -

  1. a commitment of $17,046,000 under a new subhead "Computer system for providing employment services" for the Labour Department to develop and implement a computer system for providing employment services;
  2. a commitment of $3,777,000 under a new subhead "Bureau computer service 1997-98" for the Information Technology Services Department to meet the cost of providing central server support to the system; and
  3. an increase in the ceiling placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary value of all non-directorate posts in the permanent establishment of the Information Technology Services Department in 1996-97 from $308,158,000 by $1,010,040 to $309,168,040 to permit the creation of two non-directorate posts to provide development and necessary support during the implementation of the system.


The present manual and labour-intensive mode of operation of the Employment Services Division (ESD) of the Labour Department (LD) is unable to cope with the demand for expanded and enhanced employment services.


2. The Commissioner for Labour (C for L), on the advice of the Director of Information Technology Services (DITS), proposes to develop and implement a computer system at a total non-recurrent commitment of $20,823,000.


Present mode of operation

3. Since its establishment in 1964, the ESD of LD has been providing employment services to the public on the basis of a manual mode of operation. When a Local Employment Services (LES) branch office receives a fax (or through other means) from an employer containing the vacancy information and the particulars of the employer, staff of the office will send the information to the nearby LES offices to enlarge the catchment area. The staff of these offices will allot a reference number to this vacancy and display the vacancy information in the form of cards at the waiting hall for the information of job seekers. The staff will then index the employer’s information for compilation of a register by serial number and another register by type of job. When a job-seeker finds a suitable job on the cards displayed in the waiting hall, he will first provide his personal particulars to the counter staff for registration and identify the vacancy number for job referral. The staff will then search through the indexed information for contacting the employer and will issue a referral letter to the job seeker for interview. If the vacancy is no longer available, the staff will look into the register by type of job and recommend another one to the job seeker for consideration.

4. The ESD currently handles all the above procedures manually. It maintains voluminous paper records, including 400 000 index records on particulars of job seekers, 220 000 job referral records and 90 000 vacancy records. Keeping inventory, sorting and retrieval of these paper records not only require substantial manpower but also affect the overall service efficiency.

5. The manual mode of operation also leads to ineffective communication of vacancy information among branch offices. Since a LES branch office normally sends the vacancy information it receives only to two or three nearby LES offices, no single branch office has all the vacancy information on a territory-wide basis. As a result, job seekers approaching any one particular branch office will not have access to all the vacancy information. Moreover, each branch office has to put in a lot of effort to update the job order status of these vacancies. This hinders the efficiency of the service and causes inconvenience to both job seekers and employers.

Benefits of the proposed computer system

Improvements to existing service

6. The proposed computer system aims at addressing the inadequacy of the current manual mode of operation and improving the quality of service to job seekers. It will form an integrated network covering the headquarters of the ESD and its 11 offices, including nine LES branch offices and two job matching centres. We will set up a centralised database to allow on-line sharing of information about vacancies and job seekers. In other words, job seekers could visit any branch office for access to the updated vacancy information kept by all other branches. This will greatly enhance job seekers’ access to vacancy information and hence increase their chance of finding a suitable job.

7. The proposed system will help to perform computer-aided job matching. Job seekers need only to specify their selection criteria such as job title, salary, and preferred working district. The computer system will then run a list of suitable vacancies within a very short span of time for their consideration. In addition, through self-operating terminals at the local offices, job seekers can easily search for suitable jobs by themselves. This will save their time in enquiring about the information from the counter staff.

8. The computer system will also print job records for display in either English or Chinese to save manual efforts in processing the vacancy information received from employers. It will improve accuracy and clarity of the job display cards and facilitate job seekers in locating the most suitable vacancy information.

Meeting rising demand for service

9. The demand for LES has been rising considerably since last year. In 1995, the number of registered job seekers and vacancies increased substantially, by 20% and 43% respectively, over 1994. We expect the high demand for employment service to continue as the public become better aware of the service and more willing to come forward in search of jobs, and as we continue to strive for high quality service. The proposed system will enable LD to improve its service standard and to cope with increasing demand for services without additional manpower support.

Improvements of performance pledges

10. C for L expects that the Department will be able to improve its existing performance pledges. For example, the branch offices will serve job seekers within 20 minutes of the appointment time instead of the current target of 30 minutes. They will provide applicants under the Job Matching Programme (JMP) with in-depth counselling sessions within four working days of their application instead of the current target of one week.


Non-recurrent costs

11. C for L and DITS estimate that implementation of the proposed system will require an additional non-recurrent cost of $20,823,000 over a three-year period from 1996-97 to 1998-99, made up as follows -







Computer hardware






Computer software






Data communication equipment






System development and implementation services






Data conversion






Site preparation


















Contingencies (10% of items (a) to (h) above )










Information Technology
Services Department (ITSD)


Bureau computer equipment






Contingencies (10% of item (j) above)















12. As regards paragraph 11(a), the cost of $2,725,000 is for the acquisition of additional computer hardware in LD including 64 workstations, 11 self-service terminals, 34 printers, peripherals and servers for electronic mail and fax services.

13. As regards paragraph 11(b), the cost of $1,734,000 is for the acquisition of additional computer software in LD including the software for database management, electronic mail, fax services, PC office automation and user query tools.

14. As regards paragraph 11(c), the cost of $852,000 is for the acquisition of additional data communication equipment e.g. networking routers and hubs in LD for setting up an integrated network connecting around 170 workstations distributed in the headquarters of ESD and 11 offices.

15. As regards paragraph 11(d), the cost of $7,662,000 is for system development and implementation services. This includes system analysis and design, programming, disaster recovery planning, design and coordination of site preparation work, implementation and overall project monitoring of the system. A summary of the major functions to be provided by the proposed system is in the Enclosure.

16. As regards paragraph 11(e), the cost of $1,323,000 is for the conversion of data from paper files to electronic data.

17. As regards paragraph 11(f), the cost of $545,000 is for site preparation works required for the installation of the computer equipment.

18. As regards paragraph 11(g), the cost of $75,000 is for the acquisition of start-up consumables including magnetic tapes and printer cartridges.

19. As regards paragraph 11(h), the cost of $580,000 is for training existing staff in using and supporting the new system in such areas as user query and reporting tools, Chinese input method, electronic mail and system administration.

20. As regards paragraph 11(j), the cost of $3,434,000 is for the acquisition of additional mid-range computers, system and database management software for the ITSD Bureau which provides central server support to the computer system in LD.

Non-recurrent staff cost

21. LD will incur non-recurrent staff costs of $1,635,000, being the costs for 12 man-months of Labour Officer, 12 man-months of Assistant Labour Officer I and three man-months of Clerical Officer II for defining the system requirements. C for L will meet the staffing requirement by internal redeployment.

22. ITSD will incur non-recurrent cost of $1,605,000, being the staff costs for 2.5 man-months of Senior Systems Manager, seven man-months of Systems Manager and 14 man-months of Analyst/Programmer I for managing the development and implementation of the system and providing the necessary support during the three-year period. DITS will meet the staffing requirement of the Senior Systems Manager by internal redeployment whereas the requirement of Systems Manager and Analyst/Programmer I will be met by creation of posts. To enable the creation of the two non-directorate posts in 1996-97, it is necessary to increase the total notional annual mid-point salary value of all non-directorate posts in the permanent establishment of ITSD from $308,158,000 by $1,010,040 to $309,168,040.

Recurrent costs

23. The estimated recurrent cost of maintaining and supporting the new system after implementation is $4,697,000 in a full year ($2,682,000 for staff cost and $2,015,000 for other expenditure items). Details are as follows -

From 1998-99




Computer hardware and software maintenance



Communication line rental






Training for new staff



Staff cost





Computer hardware and software maintenance



Communication line rental






Staff cost






24. As regards paragraph 23(a), the cost of $566,000 is for the annual maintenance of the hardware and software in LD.

25. As regards paragraph 23(b), the cost of $247,000 is for the rental of communication lines connecting the LD offices at different locations to ITSD's Bureau and for the rental of fax lines at LD.

26. As regards paragraph 23(c), the cost of $323,000 is for the acquisition of consumables such as data tapes, printing materials and other miscellaneous items for the equipment in LD.

27. As regards paragraph 23(d), the cost of $137,000 is for the training of new staff.

28. As regards paragraph 23(e), the annual LD staff cost of $320,000 is the cost of one Assistant Labour Officer II required to provide on-going maintenance and user support to the new system from 1998-99 onwards. We shall meet the requirement through internal redeployment.

29. As regards paragraph 23(f), the cost of $399,000 is for the annual maintenance of the additional hardware and software in ITSD's Bureau.

30. As regards paragraph 23(g), the cost of $274,000 is for the rental of communication lines connecting ITSD's Bureau to the LD offices at different locations.

31. As regards paragraph 23(h), the cost of $69,000 is for the acquisition of consumables such as data tapes, and printing materials and other miscellaneous items for the additional equipment in ITSD's Bureau.

32. As regards paragraph 23(i), the annual ITSD staff cost of $2,362,000 is for two man-months of Systems Manager, 24 man-months of Analyst/Programmer I, 12 man-months of Analyst/Programmer II and 20 man-months of Computer Operator I to provide on-going maintenance and technical support to the new system from 1998-99 onwards. The staff effort is required to provide operational support, help desk service, network support to the computer network system and the maintenance services to the customised software application system.

Impact on fees

33. The ESD of the LD provides free employment and counselling services to the public. The proposal will have no impact on fees and charges for services provided by the department.


34. On implementation of the proposed system, C for L expects to realise net savings of $1,698,000 a year. These include annual staff savings of $1,568,000, being the annual staff costs of two Assistant Labour Officers II, two Clerical Officers II, one Office Assistant and one Typist, and $130,000 savings on postage and paper cost.

35. C for L estimates that the system could also result in further savings of $6,045,000 annually, being additional costs for 26 staff which would otherwise be required for improving and meeting the rising demand for the LES.


36. C for L and DITS plan to implement the project according to the following schedule -


Target completion date

Acquisition of implementation service

January 1997

Site preparation

July 1997

System development and procurement of computer equipment

December 1997

User acceptance test

February 1998

Implementation of the new system

March 1998


37. The ESD of LD provides free employment and counselling services to able-bodied job seekers. There are now nine LES branch offices providing local employment services. We have also introduced a full scale JMP since April 1995 to provide job seekers with in-depth counselling and intensive job matching services. We further established a Job Matching Centre in February 1996 to enhance the JMP and process applications for the Supplementary Labour Scheme. There is also a Central Recruitment Unit in LD which co-ordinates applications for permanent and temporary minor staff vacancies in the Government.

38. We installed a computer system of a very limited scale and capacity in LES branch offices in January 1996 to support the JMP. As regards the proposed system, the ITSD conducted an initial study in April 1995 to define user requirements and identify benefits of computerising the manual procedures. The department completed a feasibility study in June 1996 and concluded that we should install a comprehensive network system in the ESD of LD to enhance the delivery of employment services.

Education and Manpower Branch
November 1996

Enclosure to FCR(96-97)69

Major Functions of the Proposed Computer System for Providing Employment Services

The major functions of the proposed system are -

  1. to provide an integrated database to store all business information such as information of job orders, registered job seekers and employers;
  2. to allow concurrent access to database information from all branch offices;
  3. to provide automated job matching function to improve the daily job matching process;
  4. to provide external communication facilities which allow training bodies to share vacancy information with the Employment Services Division;
  5. to provide self-operating terminals to allow job seekers to enquire online job vacancy information;
  6. to provide appointment booking features and keep track of Job Matching Programme appointments;
  7. to produce periodical statistics on employment services;
  8. to provide ad-hoc query tools to facilitate preparation of management information reports in a faster and more accurate manner;
  9. to provide facility for users in various offices to communicate via electronic mail;
  10. to allow users to do general word processing for issuing or printing non-standard letters and documents; and
  11. to allow users send documents via fax.

Last Updated on 5 August 1999