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Executive Director’s Message

The photo of Mr. Byron NG Kwok-keung, BBS, Executive Director of the Employees Retraining Board

Byron NG Kwok-keung, BBS
Executive Director
Employees Retraining Board 

Turning to 2018, with the benefits of the rising trend of the global economy, Hong Kong economy has sustained the upward momentum with many industries displaying positive growth, and the labour market continues to see almost full employment.  That said, underlying threats still exist amidst the promising external environment.  Possible changes of the global political and economic environment may add uncertainties to the local economy and employment market.  In addition, the birth rate remains at a persistently low level in the last two decades whereas the labour force participation rate is estimated to start declining after reaching its peak in the next few years.  Hence, Hong Kong is facing dual challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking workforce.

To address the prevailing environment, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has to aim high and act fast in aptly responding to changes and in developing training courses and services geared towards market needs.  In 2018-19, we will kick start the “Three-year Strategic Plan” for 2018-19 to 2020-21 to implement our work under the policy objective of “Promoting Training and Facilitating Employment” and the principle of “market-driven and employment-oriented”.  We will attach emphasis to support social groups with special needs, encourage the latent workforce to enter the employment market and facilitate the sustainable development of different industries.

On operational front, we will adopt a holistic approach.  Internally, we will streamline administrative arrangements, strengthen staff training, make better use of information technology and review organisational structure with a view to enhancing work efficiency and cost-effectiveness.  Externally, we will step up our promotional efforts to acquaint more people with our courses, to strengthen our collaboration with industries and services for employers to meet their manpower needs, and to enhance the employment opportunities of our trainees.

In 2018-19, ERB plans to provide 130,000 training places.  Among them, about 52,000 training places are for placement-tied courses, and 78,000 for skills upgrading and generic skills training.  In order to promptly react to possible changes in the society and the employment market, we have also earmarked 40,000 training places as reserve.

We have identified four major work areas with an aim to help unleash the latent workforce, to provide new impetus to the employment market, to encourage the public to pursue continuous learning and to uplift the competitiveness of Hong Kong.

First, coupled with an ageing population, the demand for healthcare service is ever increasing.  In this regard, we will strengthen our training service to nurture more talents in support of the development of elderly care industry.  We will bring in more employer partners for the “First-hire-then-train” Scheme and examine the feasibility to introduce part-time employment terms conducive for women and homemakers to land on frontline jobs in elderly homes.  We will develop English training materials to assist ethnic minorities in joining the healthcare industry.  An advanced training course for care workers as well as other on-the-job training courses for both care workers and health workers of elderly care homes, with the Social Welfare Department’s endorsement, will be developed with a view to mapping out a progression ladder for care workers and uplifting the service quality of the industry.

Second, we will promote flexible training and employment modes to cater for the training needs of latent workforce and motivate them to enter the job market.  Initiatives include further developing the “First-hire-then-train” Scheme and “Modular Certificates Accumulation Scheme” and optimising administrative arrangements to provide more flexibility in learning hours.  Furthermore, we will pilot the “Tailor-made training course (part-time job)” in collaboration with selected industries that have labour shortage and can offer flexible employment terms for special needs groups.

Third, in view of the encouraging response of the public on the “We Love Upgrading” Scheme launched in 2017-18, we will introduce a brand new “Love Upgrading In June” Scheme in June 2018 to motivate eligible citizens who have not taken ERB courses before to enrol in a half-day or evening non-placement-tied course free of charge and experience personally the diversity and professionalism of our courses.  All in all, we aim at promoting life-long learning and skills upgrading at community level.

Fourth, we will develop a series of “Specifications of Competency Standards-based” courses to dovetail with the development of the “Qualifications Framework”, and to follow up and review the successful application of “Programme Area Accreditation” for the catering, food and beverage services sub-area so as to formulate pertaining work plan in the future.  Internal training programmes will be organised to enhance the professional knowledge of our staff in the aspects of course design and development, and related operational guidelines will be formulated to improve the quality of courses persistently.

In support of special needs groups, we will continue to broaden their training and employment options.  We will develop more dedicated courses, organise thematic workshops regularly, develop English training materials and strengthen our Training Consultancy Service.  Furthermore, we will expand the “Workplace Re-entry” activity series, conduct more dedicated activities at ERB Service Spots and extend the “Work Experience” activity series. Targeted publicity and promotion including publishing promotional leaflets tailored for special target groups, and sponsoring training bodies to organise more dedicated district-based promotional activities are being planned.

At present, we are operating two ERB Service Centres, 22 ERB Service Spots, eight "Smart Living" regional service centres, one "Smart Baby Care" and two "Smart Starter" referral centres in various districts.  We will continue promoting our courses, services and information channels at both territory-wide and district levels, strengthening our connection and partnership with stakeholders and diversifying the training and employment support to our trainees.

In future, we pledge to do our utmost in striving for excellence.  By developing in both the horizontal and vertical directions, and by expediting our work on internal and external fronts, we are committed to drawing up a multi-dimensional and dynamic blueprint for training and employment to tie in with the progress of the society.