Mr William LEUNG Wing-cheung, BBS, JP
My over 40 years of work experience in the finance sector has made me fully appreciate the importance of stable financial support to the sustainable development of an organisation. Talent development is a long-term social project and must anchor on stable source of finance before it can take root and bear fruit. We are pleased that the Government has injected $15 billion into the Employees Retraining Fund in 2013-14. This reflects the long-term commitment of the Government to enhancing the employability of local employees. The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) is aware of the need to exercise extreme prudence in the management of public moneys of this magnitude. The funds will primarily be used as seed money for generating investment income to finance the operations of the ERB in the long run.
The ERB has all along played a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of human resources in Hong Kong. By adopting a “market-driven and employment-oriented” approach, we strive to offer appropriate and timely training for the unemployed as well as the serving employees, with the objectives of upgrading their skill level and developing human capital for society at large.
In 2013-14, the ERB launched a host of new initiatives to drive the “Manpower Development Scheme” to new frontiers. We focused on the development of occupations with considerable employment potential. We improved the training contents of post-natal care worker courses and launched the “Smart Baby Care” scheme to centrally manage referrals for vacancies of post-natal care workers and child and infant care workers. We introduced on a pilot basis the “Squad 3S” Programme, which provided one-stop training and employment support to young people and helped them land on jobs in high-end property management and security services. We encouraged training bodies to flexibly arrange enterprise-based training for individual enterprises or trade associations to increase the training opportunities of frontline employees. As regards publicity and promotion, we spearheaded a series of pilot programmes on “ERB Heading Into the Districts 2014” in Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long to cultivate district networks and develop partnership relations with district organisations. We also organised an annual employer gathering for the first time to enhance the mutual understanding between employers and training bodies, and foster opportunities for collaboration.
In recent years, the labour force participation rate of Hong Kong has continuously declined as the population is ageing. The challenges facing the ERB are to assist the unemployed to acquire new skills and re-enter the employment market, thereby reducing the risk of poverty on the one hand, and helping trades and industries alleviate the problem of labour shortage on the other. We will carefully explore ways to unleash the potential of the latent workforce and enhance the skill levels of serving employees, with a view to supporting the sustainable development of the community as well as the economy.
In view of the tremendous social values of training and employment, the ERB has in its “Three-year Strategic Plan” for 2014-15 to 2016-17 emphasised the overall objective of “Training for empowerment, employment for alleviation of poverty”. Our work will focus on supporting social groups with special needs, including people of higher age, youths, homemakers, new arrivals and ethnic minorities. We will continuously improve our courses and services to address the needs of our service targets, and introduce supportive measures to motivate people to enrol in our training courses. We will also undertake a series of market research to provide guidance and reference information for the development of our courses and services.
In 2014-15, the ERB will adopt a "GOLD Strategy" in pursuing its workplan. Our key directions are: “Generate Interest”, i.e. to arouse people’s interest to pursue training; “Organise Resources”, i.e. to optimise operational efficiency and effectiveness; “Lift Quality”, i.e. to improve the quality of training courses and services; and “Develop Courses”, i.e. to develop new training courses with market potential. We will offer a total of 130,000 training places, and set aside resources for adding another 40,000 training places when necessary to promptly respond to changes in the employment market.
As a social project, talent development counts on the support and participation of different quarters of the community. In view of this, the ERB will strive to strengthen partnerships with training bodies, employer associations, trade unions and district organisations. This will allow us to improve the quality of our courses and services on a continuous basis and enhance the employment opportunities for our trainees.
I am a strong believer in the principle of “Doing better every day”. With solid financial support and long-term development strategy, I am confident that the ERB can scale new heights and work hand-in-hand with different stakeholders to create a dynamic and vigorous training and employment market with better quality, and make more contributions towards the sustainable development of Hong Kong.