Promoting Employment and Training
47. Though Hong Kong's economy is
showing signs of recovery, many people, including some
from the middle class, still suffer from unemployment,
job insecurity and other pains brought about by economic
adjustments. In the transition to a knowledge-based
economy, we need to strengthen training and retraining
before economic growth can bring about increased employment.
48. We need to continue to promote
training and retraining. Some of the Vocational Training
Council's (VTC) courses have been criticised for not
meeting market demand. These have been improved. The
VTC provided more than 32 000 pre-vocational places
and some 90 000 in-service training places in the past
school year. The Employees Retraining Board (ERB) provided
over 100 000 places in 2003. Graduates from courses
offered by the VTC and fulltime ERB courses achieved
an employment rate of 80% on average. These training
and retraining courses will be better oriented towards
the needs of our restructuring economy to increase the
49. In the past, we have introduced
a package of temporary jobs and skills enhancement opportunities.
Most of the short-term jobs are due to expire by March.
Although the unemployment rate is declining and the
employment situation is improving, we are determined
to set aside, even as we strive to reduce the fiscal
deficit, about $1.2 billion to implement three employment
measures. First, we will extend about 11 000 temporary
jobs; second, we will extend the Youth Work Experience
and Training Scheme by two years to place into employment
10 000 young people aged 15 to 24; and third, we will
introduce a one-year trial scheme to assist 1 000 young
people to become selfemployed.
50. We are seriously concerned about
continuing learning and employment for young people.
The Youth Pre-employment Training Programme has provided
practical support for those leaving school and seeking
employment, and will definitely continue. We have accepted
the recommendations of the Commission on Youth and will
set up an inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary
task force to be responsible for overseeing the implementation
of various youth training and employment programmes.
We will establish a Youth Sustainable Development and
Employment Fund to promote trial schemes and exploit
opportunities for training, placement and employment.
51. The Government has vigorously stepped
up its employment service for job seekers. Last year,
the 11 job centres of the Labour Department placed 66
000 persons in employment. We will continue with our
Special Incentive Allowance Scheme for Local Domestic
Helpers. We will review the scheme and make improvements
52. We fully appreciate the hardship
and feelings of those who are unemployed and will try
our utmost to help them enter the job market. But we
also understand that real economic growth is the key
to effectively tackling structural unemployment. For
example, the tourism sector is becoming more prosperous.
New hotels gradually coming on stream over the next
five years will provide not only many jobs for construction
and decoration projects but also some 13 000 new service-related
jobs. The capital works programme for the next five
years will sustain the employment of about 41 000 construction
workers annually, apart from professional and technical
personnel. The Government will actively remove obstacles
to the development of local businesses and encourage
corporate investment. We are determined to crack down
on the employment of illegal workers to safeguard job
opportunities for the local workforce. We will also
pay attention to whether those working on Government
contracts are receiving a reasonable wage.