Asked by : Hon TAM Yiu-chung
Replied by : SEM
The unemployment rate continued to rise throughout last year and reached 6.1% in the last quarter. Given that the Chief Executive stated on the 30th of last month that the Government would create some 2 000 jobs in addition to the 30 000-plus job opportunities to be created in the public sector as pledged in the 2001 Policy Address, will the Government inform this Council:
As a result of the dual effect of the deterioration of the external economic environment and the economic restructuring within Hong Kong, the latest quarterly unemployment rate has reached 6.7%. The number of unemployed persons was close to 220 000. In the near term, unemployment rate is likely to remain high. In fact, a reversal of economic growth is the world trend and is beyond human control. Furthermore, government's financial position is extremely tight, and is not able to create massive number of jobs. Any improvement in the unemployment situation must ultimately be driven by the economy and directed by the market to create job opportunities. In the long term, we must upgrade the quality of our workforce and minimise any mismatch between supply and demand.
On the other hand, with due regard to Hong Kong's long term strategic development, the Government is actively developing new economic sectors, improving business environment, expanding the development space for enterprises and encouraging investment with a view to creating more employment opportunities. In recent years, the Government is actively promoting tourism, logistics industry and financial industry. We also step up economic cooperation with the Mainland and invest heavily in manpower training to cater for the needs of economic development. These initiatives will help resolve the unemployment problem.
In the longer term, to cope with skill mismatch brought about by economic restructuring, we have to change the traditional mode of education and nurture a new generation that have a creative mind and the abilities of self-learning and adaptation. We must also strengthen vocational training and encourage life-long learning to improve the competitiveness of local workers in employment market.
At the same time, we have to attract more talents to come to work in Hong Kong so as to foster investment and facilitate economic growth. Apart from this, we should strengthen the training for local workers. In particular, we have to improve the competitiveness of low-skilled workers. For example, the training for local domestic helpers has become more professional and varied with the addition of modules on cookery, child and elderly care. We have also made the post-training follow-up and employment services more systematic to attract more employers to hire local domestic helpers.
We believe that the current policy objectives are on the right track. While the short term relieve measures are important, long term economic development and training strategy are in fact more critical. We also hope that employers and employees can join hands to weather this difficult period and avoid massive layoffs, which would exacerbate the unemployment situation.
Timetable of Creation of 2000 Jobs
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