The Policy Address 2000

New Skills

87. In the coming six months, the Government will examine the development of the labour market and consult local trades and industries extensively on the need for skills upgrading. Tailor-made training programmes will then be devised. We have earmarked $400 million for a wide variety of training programmes in the next two years for both employed and unemployed workers with low education levels. Our aim is to help them upgrade their skills and enhance their competitiveness in the labour market. We estimate that about 50 000 people will benefit directly.

88. The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) has so far received capital injections totalling $1.6 billion to offer nearly 100 000 retraining places every year. I propose that starting from next financial year, an annual recurrent subvention of $400 million be allocated to the ERB so that it has a more stable source of funding, and can therefore draw up plans for the longer term. To encourage people to start their own business, the ERB since August has been offering courses on self-employment on a trial basis to help retrainees start businesses or co-operative societies in areas such as providing cleansing or home help services. The Education and Manpower Bureau is also discussing with the ERB the establishment of a fund to provide shared facilities and other support services for retrainees who want to start up a business, and to offer one-off loans to those who can put forward concrete business plans.

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