(Summary Translation)

(Letterhead of the Social Work Graduate Employment Concern Group)

Submission by the Social Work Graduate Employment Concern Group on the Employment Situation of Fresh Social Work Graduates

Dear Sirs/Mesdames,

We would like to thank the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) Panel on Welfare Services for including the above item in the agenda for discussion at its meeting.


2.The Social Work Graduate Employment Concern Group (Concern Group) comprises a group of fresh social work graduates from all tertiary institutions. Social work graduates have been plagued by the problem of failing to acquire jobs since June this year. Past experience indicated that most social work graduates could secure jobs in October but up till now, 60% of social work graduates still could not join the social work profession.

3.We have been taking various actions to arouse the concern of the public on the employment difficulties suffered by fresh social work graduates. We hope that our actions can arouse the attention of both the Government and the public regarding the situation where the stagnation in the development of social welfare services has left many social work graduates unemployed.

The Employment Situation of Social Work Graduates in September and November

4.According to the Social Welfare Manpower Planning System Report No. 9 released in April 1997, the Government anticipated that 70% of social work graduates could get jobs in the relevant field in 1997, and that there would even be a shortfall of supply of social work diploma graduates. However, our surveys conducted in September and November revealed that up to 60% of social work degree graduates and 40% of diploma graduates were left unemployed. This resulted in a serious mismatch between the projections of the Government and the realities.

The employment situation for fresh full-time social work degree graduates:

(as at 19.11.1997)

HKU CU City U Poly U Baptist U Total
Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov
graduates 75 75 77 77 96 96 67 67 39 39 354
Assistant Social Work Officers

20 25 28 34 8 12 16 20 6 8 78
Social Work Assistants/ Welfare Workers

/ 7 / 0 / 9 / 2 / 1 / 19
Other sectors

/ / / 18 / / / 4 / 9 / 31

55 43 49 25 88 75 50 41 34 21 276

The employment situation for fresh full-time social work diploma graduates:
(as at 19.11.1997)

City U Poly U Shue Yan Total
Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov Sept Nov

300 300 215 215 20 20 535
Social Work Assistants

100 124 100 110 4 9 204
Welfare Workers

/ 17 / 17 / / / 34
Other sectors

/ / / 57 / 1 / 58

200 159 115 31 16 10 331

Inaccurate Projections Denied by the Social Work Department

5.We would like to highlight the point that the number of places of the social work courses organized by tertiary institutions is based on the manpower projections made by the Government with regard to the future demand for social services. Based on such manpower projections of the Government and at the request of the Social Work Department (SWD), the Polytechnic University and the City University substantially increased the number of places of their social work diploma courses in 1994. However, the Deputy Director of Social Welfare (DD(SW)), Mrs CHU, denied that the manpower projections made by the Government were inaccurate. She attributed the unemployment situation to a number of variables, such as the uncertainty surrounding the handover of sovereignty in 1997, the increased supply of overseas returnees and the low wastage rate of social workers, etc.

6.Regarding the above variables, no conclusive evidence was given by DD(SW) to justify such claims. If the Government always attributes the imbalance of supply and demand to social variables, what is the use of pursuing manpower planning? Moreover, while the current year is coming to an end, the SWD still could not give any specific data on the number of vacancies for social workers for the current year. It is therefore doubtful whether the SWD has any specific plans on the staffing demand for social workers and on the development of social welfare services.

Sluggish Development of Social Services Denied by the SWD

7.It was claimed by DD(SW) that she was proud of the development of social welfare services in Hong Kong. However, let us look at the following areas of concern to see if we should be " proud " of the current situation.

8.While the Chief Executive advocated the provision of elderly services in his Policy Address, such services are in fact far from adequate. For example, while the SWD encourages open membership adopted by Social Centres for the Elderly, only one trained social worker is stationed in one such social centre. Moreover, the SWD focuses only on the provision of recreational and health care services for the elderly, neglecting the need for counseling services to be provided for those elderly who have emotional problems.

9.As regards the provision of services for the family, the SWD still adheres to the manning ratio of 1:70 for family case workers, which was the target for the SWD's Five-Year Plan drawn up in 1989. Is it the intention of the SWD to procrastinate the development of family services by sticking to a target ratio made eight years ago?

10.It has been the objective of both the education sector and the social work sector to have one school social worker in each school. However, DD(SW) stated that the SWD had never made the pledge of providing one school social worker for each school and the manning ratio was being reviewed by the Working Group on School Social Work Service. It is disappointed to see that the SWD lacks any commitment in addressing the increasing complex problem of youth.

Wastage of Resources

11. The training up of a social work degree graduate or a diploma graduate requires more resources than that required for training up graduates in the general disciplines. The cost for training up the 889 fresh social work graduates amounted to $213,200,000. With 205 degree graduates and 200 diploma graduates still out of job, the amount of resources wasted was as much as $101,500,000.

The Public Deprived of Adequate Services with Insufficient Social Workers In Service

12.The supply of social workers should tie in with the demand for social services. The over-supply of social workers indicates that the necessary social welfare services have not been developed. Apart from creating employment difficulties for social work graduates, the underprovision of social welfare services has also deprived the public of their access to the services that they deserve.


13.We would like to state the following requests regarding the employment difficulties encountered by social work graduates and the sluggish development of social welfare services:

  • The Government should promptly develop the services that it has pledged to pursue, such as the provision of one school social worker for each school and the caseload of 1:50 for family case workers.
  • The SWD should publicize the number of posts to be created for social workers before the end of the current year, and should publicize the number of vacancies each year.

  • The Government should address the need of the public for social services, such as the manning ratio of social workers in Social Centres for the Elderly, the outreaching services for the elderly and the provision of social workers for primary schools.

  • The Government should make sure that its manpower planning can tie in with the development of services so that the demand and supply situation of social work personnel can be better matched.


14.We hope that the PLC Panel on Welfare Services can follow up the following issues:

  • setting up a select group to monitor the matching of manpower training with the development of social welfare services.

  • monitoring the SWD's progress in developing social services.

  • paying attention to the granting of land for the construction of social welfare facilities.

Social Work Graduate
Employment Concern Group