Mr William LEUNG Wing-cheung, BBS, JP
As a result of the low unemployment rate in recent years, many industries are facing labour shortage. However, some people are still out of jobs while there are plentiful vacancies to be filled. Some social groups are in particular vulnerable to unemployment. They include: women who have to look after their families and are unable to engage in full-time work; ethnic minorities and new arrivals who experience difficulties in integrating into the local job market due to language barrier and cultural differences; and older adults who require adjustments both in terms of skills and mindsets. We will devote much effort in helping these social groups with special needs. Besides strengthening our training and placement services, we will introduce a series of tailor-made support measures and value-added services for them.
The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has in its latest Three-year Strategic Plan adopted the overall objective of "Training for Empowerment, Employment for the Alleviation of Poverty, with an emphasis on providing support to social groups with special needs. We trust that training will help people further their careers, and employment will improve their standard of living. However, employees must strike a good balance between family and work in order to create a triple-win situation that will benefit employers, employees and the employees’ families: employers will secure stable human resources; employees will achieve work-life balance; and the quality of family life will be improved. Good employment relations and harmonious family life are the cornerstones of a caring and inclusive society. Along this direction, the ERB will adopt the theme of "Love Your Family, Love Your Work" for 2015-16, and will pilot four new programmes aiming at unleashing the latent workforce and establishing a society that embraces diversity and inclusiveness.
First, we will step up collaboration with the Home Affairs Department to provide outreach training services for ethnic minorities. Our training bodies will offer ERB courses at the premises of the "Support Service Centres for Ethnic Minorities" on a pilot basis. We hope to connect with more people of ethnic minority origin, and encourage and support them to pursue training.
Second, we will launch a "First-Hire-Then-Train Pilot Programme" to train the middle-aged and older adults to work as care workers for elderly homes. Trainees will receive short-term basic training after they land on jobs, and attend specified training courses on a day-release basis afterwards. Upon completion of the Programme, trainees will be able to master in full the day-to-day work of a care worker. We will actively liaise with the employer with a view to finalising working hours and leave arrangements that can match the family commitments of trainees.
Third, we will introduce a "Modular Certificates Accumulation Scheme" for women based on the concept of "savings account". People who are unable to attend our full-time training courses due to family commitments may enrol in and complete a number of specified half-day or evening courses and then apply for a certificate of a corresponding full-time course. We will try out the arrangements in the "Foundation Certificate in Post-natal Care Worker Training" course. If the outcomes are favourable, we will consider extending the Scheme to cover more popular courses.
Fourth, we will put in place, a part-time job referral platform - the "Smart Starter" - for new arrivals who have completed our training courses. The platform will provide one-stop registration, vacancy referral and follow-up services as well as a host of value-added measures, including employment counseling, community resources information service, seminars and workshops, support groups, etc to address the needs of new arrivals.
Provision of dedicated services to social groups with special needs is a challenging task. We will undertake the various preparatory work with diligence, and review from time to time the outcomes of the services upon implementation with a view to continuous improvement. On the other hand, we will continue to develop our training courses and services to help the unemployed re-enter the job market and serving employees to upgrade their skills, thereby facilitating upward mobility. We will also work in tandem with the Government’s policies on population and poverty alleviation to help unleash the latent workforce, promote the sustainable development of the economy, and build a caring and inclusive society together.