LEGCO QUESTION NO.6(ORAL REPLY)
Date of sitting : 7.11.2001
Asked by : Hon Frederick FUNG
Replied by : SEM
The Chief Executive undertook in his Policy Address 2001 to create over 30 000 job opportunities in the public sector. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
- the number of new job opportunities that will be created in the coming 12 months; the detailed timetable for creating the remaining job opportunities; and
- any further measures it will take to reduce the unemployment situation aggravated by the deteriorating economy?
- The Chief Executive announced in his 2001 Policy Address that where it is consistent with our long-term development needs, the Government will seek to create more job opportunities.
Of the 30 000 or so job opportunities mentioned in the Policy Address, it is estimated that more than 6 600 will be created by April next year while another 18 000 will be created in 2002-03. This means that a total of 24 000 new jobs will be created by 2002-03 which will help alleviate the unemployment situation. The remaining 8 000 or so jobs will be created during or after 2003-04. Details of the job opportunities to be created are shown at the table attached.
- The Government is closely monitoring the economic situation in Hong Kong. It would not be appropriate at this stage to form any rash conclusion on our future development. As unemployment is expected to worsen in the near future, departments concerned are now studying ways to further expedite and to create, as far as possible, job opportunities in needed areas. Feasible proposals to tackle unemployment will be further discussed by the Task Force on Employment led by the Financial Secretary at a meeting to be held in late November.
On the education and manpower front, we are taking steps to open up job opportunities in personal care, domestic helper and security services for job seekers with low education background. We will further reduce the number of imported care workers admitted under the "Supplementary Labour Scheme". We will also join hands with the Employees Retraining Board and some training bodies to improve the employment prospect of local domestic helpers. Regarding security service, we will request relevant departments, in assessing bids from contractors, to pay due regard to the proposed salary levels and to consider reducing the working hours of security personnel. This will have the effect of increasing job opportunities. In addition, the Immigration Department, the Police and the Labour Department will also step up efforts in joint raids and operations to eliminate illegal employment black spots to protect the employment opportunity of local workers.
Unemployment in Hong Kong is, to a considerable extent, caused by the global economic downturn. Take the unemployment figures in the third quarter as an example. As a result of the impact of the 911 incident and the ensuing events, unemployment in industries related to external trade and travel has showed a marked increase. Furthermore, in the course of our transformation into a knowledge-based economy, workers with lower education level and traditional skills will have greater difficulties in coping with the changing demand of the labour market, and this has aggravated the problem of manpower mismatch.
As a result, we have to change the traditional mode of education and equip the new generation with a creative mind and the abilities of self-learning and adaptation in the long run. Greater emphasis has to be put on vocational training to help the employed and the unemployed to cope with the demands of a knowledge-based economy. These are the ultimate solutions to the unemployment problem. We are currently reviewing the entire training and retraining framework to ensure resources are used more effectively. We are also actively preparing for the establishment of a continuing education fund in order to encourage life-long learning and foster the economic restructuring of Hong Kong.