Legislative Council
Panel on Manpower
Meeting on 22 April 1999

A Study on the Manpower Requirements for Infrastructural Projects Introduction

This paper provides information on the Administration's latest assessment of the manpower requirements arising from major infrastructural projects to be carried out in Hong Kong over the next 3 years.


2. A large number of infrastructural projects, which include major railway developments and projects in the Public Works Programme, will be carried out in Hong Kong over the next few years. It is anticipated that these works will generate a large demand for on-site construction workers.

3. With the assistance of public training bodies, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation and Kowloon-Canton Railway Coroporation, and related government departments, we have attempted to assess, as accurately as possible, the manpower demand for infrastructural projects by trades within the construction industry. Our assessment concentrates on on-site workers only as this is the area where heaviest demand is likely to arise.

Manpower Demand

4. The major findings on the manpower demand side are highlighted as follows -

Demand for on-site construction workers
in 1998-1999, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001

Demand arising from major railway developments1 1 78015 15022 250
Demand arising from public works programme224 14027 08028 490
Total demand for infrastructural projects25 92042 24050 740

The estimated overall manpower demand by trades for infrastructural projects is at Annex A, whereas the demand figures generated by the railway developments and public works programme by trades are at Annexes B and C respectively.

5. When projecting the forecast, the two railway corporations made reference to manpower requirements for past typical projects. These figures have been examined by the department concerned which has advised that the overall manpower demand for the five committed railway lines as submitted by the two corporations are not unreasonable. However, as only a small portion of the contracts have so far been issued, it is difficult at this stage to assess the accuracy of the manpower demand for each trade.

6. Figures relating to public works programme are supplied by the Works Bureau.

7. It should be noted that in addition to the manpower demand listed in paragraph 4 above, an additional 4,000 jobs in the construction industry is likely to be created between 2000 and mid 2007 when the Cyberport is scheduled to be built. However as the demand for construction workers is expected to reach its peak in 2002-03 and as detailed information on the types of workers required is not as yet available, we have not included the additional demand in our current assessment.

Manpower Supply

8. Based on the following sources we have estimated the total supply of on-site workers for the construction industry in the coming 3 years at Annex D:

Number of On-site Workers in the Construction Industry (Electrical and Mechanical Workers are not covered in this quarterly site survey) 1998 Fourth Quarter figure, Quarterly Employment Survey of Construction Sites, Census & Statistics Department
Number of Electrical and Mechanical Workers Electrical Industry 1997 Manpower Survey, Vocational Training Council
Number of currently unemployed persons with a previous job as on-site construction workers in the construction sector Fourth Quarter 1998 General Household Survey, Census & Statistics Department
Planned Trainees Output Construction Industry Training Authority
Planned Trainees Output Vocational Training Council
Planned Trainees Output Employees Retraining Board


9. The figures at Annex A show that manpower demand for on-site construction workers arising from implementation of the infrastructural projects will rise from 25,900 in 1998/99 to 42,000 in 1999/2000 and further to 50,700 in 2000/2001 (i.e. by 16,300 in 1999/2000 and 8,500 in 2000/2001). The demand will increase across the board for all types of on site construction workers and in particular for pneumatic driller/excavators, riggers/metal frame erectors/metal scaffolders, structural steel erectors, fire services mechanics, concretors, bamboo scaffolders, etc.

10. On the other hand, the output of the training organisations during this period will average around 6,000 new workers per annum. The labour market situation for on site construction workers is therefore expected to tighten in 1999/2000 and 2000/2001.

11. According to the 1998 Fourth Quarter General Household Survey carried out by the Census and Statistics Department, there were some 23,200 unemployed persons who had previously worked as on-site construction workers in the construction industry. The employment opportunities for these workers in the construction industry should significantly improve in the next two years as a result of the major infrastructural projects.

Way Forward

12. As the manpower demand for on-site construction workers will be increasing rapidly in the next two years, the Government recognises the need to plan ahead in order to respond to the demand promptly. We will proceed along the following lines :

  1. We will monitor the labour supply and demand situation closely through the Working Group on Training and Retraining for the Construction Industry. This Working Group comprises representatives from trade associations, trade unions, training service providers and government departments. It enables manpower problems in the industry to be identified early and for solutions to be jointly worked out. It also ensures that training services are geared up to meet the demands of the industry.

  2. Since February 1998 the Working Group has introduced an intermediate trade test for construction workers. The purposes of the test are to provide opportunities for potential and in-service workers to certify their skills so as to facilitate their placement and to establish an objective standard of skill level in the industry. So far some 8000 workers have passed the test. A complete list of such workers is kept by the Labour Department. Employers who have need to engage additional construction workers will be able to do so through the list. The list will help ensure that priority is given to local construction workers when new jobs are created under the various infrastructural projects.

  3. We will continue to liaise with the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) closely to ensure that their training capacity is flexibly deployed to meet the needs of the industry. Plans are in place to enable CITA to increase its training capacity by 1 000 through the temporary use of an additional training site. In addition, CITA will be able to increase training places for particular trade types through internal adjustment and increasing the number of short courses.
Education and Manpower Bureau
April 1999

1 Major railway projects include the West Rail Phase I, the Tseung Kwan O Extension, the Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom Extension, the Man On Shan to Tai Wai Rail Link, the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and improvement or extension of the existing railway network of MTR and KCR.

2 Major public works programme includes expansion of road networks, improvement of drainage and sewage systems, improvement of water supply systems, port development, reclamation and site formation works, school improvement programme and building of other public facilities, but excludes maintenance works.