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Working Holiday Scheme for young people of Hong Kong and with New Zealand

LEGCO QUESTION NO.7(WRITTEN REPLY)


Date of Meeting: 13 December 2000



Asked by : Hon NG Leung-sing

Replied by : SEM

Question :

The Government announced early last month that it had reached an agreement with the New Zealand Government to set up a Working Holiday Scheme ("the Scheme") for young people of the two territories. Under the Scheme, 200 young people each from Hong Kong and New Zealand can take up short-term educational courses or short-term employment while they are on holiday in each other's territory each year. The Government also hopes to recruit some of the New Zealand holiday makers as English language teaching assistants in local schools to reinforce the Native-speaking English Teachers Scheme. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. how it will assess if the New Zealand participants are qualified to work as English language teaching assistants, and of the party who will pay for their salaries as well as their board and lodging; if the expenses are to be borne by the schools concerned, whether it will provide funding for such schools;

  2. of the restrictions the New Zealand participants will be subject to while working in Hong Kong, and the kinds of evidence they need to produce to the Government to show that they have sufficient means to pay for their return journeys and to maintain themselves in Hong Kong;

  3. whether it will assist Hong Kong participants in seeking employment in New Zealand; if so, of the relevant details;

  4. whether it will consider increasing the quota of participants under the Scheme; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that; and

  5. whether it will consider holding discussions with other countries on setting up similar schemes; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that?


Reply:

Madam President,

a. The purpose of setting up a bilateral Working Holiday Scheme with New Zealand is to provide young people of the two places with the opportunity to broaden their horizons by allowing them to take up short-term employment or educational courses while they are on holiday in each other's territory. Participation in the Scheme is entirely voluntary. Holiday-makers would have to bear their own travelling expenses and the cost of maintaining themselves.

We welcome and encourage New Zealand participants to take up employment as English language teaching assistants in local schools to reinforce the Native-speaking English Teachers (NET) Scheme. Interested schools may, using existing resources, select and employ those New Zealand participants whom they consider suitable to join their schools. Job contents and remuneration should be discussed and agreed upon by the schools and participants concerned. The Government will assist in publicizing and promoting the Scheme to local schools and New Zealand participants. For example, the Education Department will promote the Scheme to local schools through school councils and circulars, and appeal to them to forward vacancies on English language teaching assistants to the Labour Department. To facilitate the recruitment by local schools, the Labour Department will set up a special web page for the Scheme to disseminate vacancy information with schools so that New Zealand young people may have quick and easy access to the most updated information.
b. Participants will have to provide proof of their ability to pay for their return journeys and to maintain themselves for a period of time while they are on holiday. We are discussing with the New Zealand Government on the implementation details, including the types of proof that applicants would be required to provide. We hope to be able to announce the necessary details by early next year.
c. We are discussing with the New Zealand Government on how best to assist participants of the scheme in finding employment. We hope to be able to announce the details by early next year.
d. The Hong Kong and New Zealand governments have agreed to review the effectiveness of the Scheme two years after its implementation. We will consider whether there is a need to increase the quota for participants, taking into account the response and utilisation rate of the Scheme.
e. We hope to gauge Hong Kong people's response to the Scheme before considering whether to work out similar schemes with other countries. In considering further schemes, we will take into account what benefits individual schemes would bring to Hong Kong's young people as well as to our community.
Last revision date: 13 December 2000
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