Master Lo Pan – continuing his legacy
Last Thursday (the thirteenth day of the sixth month in the Lunar Calendar) was the birthday of Lo Pan, also known as the Birthday of the Master (Si Fu Festival). It is an important traditional festival for the construction industry during which the practitioners pray for the success and safety at work. In the past week, I was invited to various events in celebration of the Birthday. I am pleased to see that the construction industry is highly united, and that more and more young people are willing to join the industry to support our infrastructure development, so as to help develop Hong Kong into a more liveable and workable city.
More on Master Lo Pan
People outside the industry may not know Lo Pan’s story. Lo Pan, the Patron Saint of Chinese builders and constructors, was born in 507 B.C. in the state of Lu (now Shandong Province). He was the greatest builder, carpenter and inventor in ancient China, and is worshipped as the master of practitioners of the construction industry and three trades, namely carpentry, plastering and masonry. Legend has it that he, as a young man, learned construction skills up on the Zhongnan Mountains after having overcome high mountains, deep valleys and a lot of difficulties. During the Spring and Autumn Period, he established a number of construction rules and invented many tools that are still widely used today such as levellers, saws and L-shaped rulers, earning him the name of Master of Crafts. I hope that all modern day young Lo Pan joining the industry will not only inherit Master Lo Pan’s construction craftsmanship but also his hardworking and innovative spirit, so as to lead the construction industry to continue to flourish.
Ample opportunities for the construction industry
The Government has been implementing public works projects in an orderly manner so as to improve people’s quality of life, enhance Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness and promote our economic development. At present, the annual expenditure on public works projects exceeds $80 billion, and is expected to remain at a high level in the coming few years. Meanwhile, according to the latest forecast by the Construction Industry Council (CIC), the annual total construction output of the public and private sectors in the next 5 to 10 years will reach the level of $300 billion, indicating a persistent high demand for construction services and ample opportunities for the industry.
In the coming few years, we will continue to allocate resources to cost-effective works projects, such as new development areas, the Central Kowloon Route, the Kai Tak Sports Park, the 10-year Hospital Development Plan, as well as various educational, drainage and water works projects.
Attracting new blood to the construction industry
The construction industry has all along been an important pillar industry of Hong Kong. With the commencement of various infrastructure projects, along with the ongoing works of urban renewal, redevelopment, maintenance, building construction and environmental protection, there is a huge demand for construction manpower. However, the industry has been facing the problems of labour shortage and ageing skilled workforce in recent years. With the support of the Development Bureau (DEVB), the CIC has proactively launched a wide range of training programmes, offering comprehensive training and clear progression pathways to attract more new blood to the industry and pass on the construction skills.
In addition, the CIC will set up the Hong Kong Institute of Construction in the first half of 2018 to provide enhanced skills training and improve the professional image of workers, so as to attract more new entrants to the construction industry. We will also continue to attract ethnic minorities to our construction family by organising job fairs, fun days and site visits, as well as providing more English courses.
Concerted efforts to improve people’s livelihood
Lo Pan’s followers are, in fact, the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to make Hong Kong thrive with its world-class infrastructure. Looking ahead, we will continue to deliver a wide array of public works projects that will improve people’s livelihood. To realise our development vision, we need to have a quality construction team as well as the support of the public, legislators and various sectors of the community. We will continue to work with the construction industry to improve its professional image and attract more new blood to the industry, and maintain active dialogue with various stakeholders for the timely implementation of works projects.
9 July, 2017