Promoting the development of the construction industry through active training and improved productivity
The construction industry is crucial to the promotion of Hong Kong’s social and economic development, and is therefore an indispensable partner of the Development Bureau (DEVB). As the Chief Executive said in the Policy Address, the construction industry has been facing the challenges of high construction costs and labour shortage in recent years. Hence, the Government is proactively promoting the adoption of technology and innovative construction methods to improve productivity and cost-effectiveness. This week, I would like to introduce an array of measures set out in the Policy Address to spur the development of the construction industry, so as to provide a better insight into the development prospects and potential of the industry. I hope that more new entrants, particularly young people, will be attracted to join the construction workforce and ease the long-standing problem of labour shortage in the industry.
A few days ago, I, together with the Chairman of the Construction Industry Council (CIC), Sr CHAN Ka-kui, and a few others, visited the CIC Tai Po Training Ground to learn more about the training provided for trainees in various construction techniques. I was pleased to see that the several young people I met who were attending the Construction Diploma Programme and the Basic Craft Courses were very confident about their future. Among them, two female trainees aspiring to work in painting and cement sand mortar shared with us the reason why they had enrolled in the courses. They can indeed rival men in a traditionally male-dominated industry sector. With the launching of various types of large and small infrastructure projects in future, it is anticipated that the volume of overall construction output in both the private and public sectors will be at a high level of over $250 billion per annum in the next 10 years. I very much hope that CIC trainees will put their skills to good use in future and keep learning to improve themselves, so as to make contributions to the industry and the society.
Striving to improve productivity
To promote social progress, it is crucial that various trades and industries move with the times. As such, we always encourage the construction industry to improve productivity. The new Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre of the CIC will soon be completed and will provide an effective and convenient platform for the industry to bring in the latest information on the local and overseas construction technologies and to support their adoption by small and medium enterprises, so as to improve the industry’s productivity and safety performance. The centre is expected to come into operation by the end of this year.
The Government will also adopt the Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology in major government capital works projects scheduled to start in 2018, so as to enable construction professionals to carry out design and construction works in a virtual environment. The technology helps reduce subsequent changes and risks in the actual construction process and provides greater cost certainty in the various stages of projects. In addition, we will collaborate with the CIC to enhance BIM training for the relevant professionals, develop related technical standards and guidelines, and encourage the use of the technology in private works projects. We expect that in 2018, BIM technology will be used in about 30 public works projects, including its adoption in project design and construction works.
Promoting the adoption of Modular Integrated Construction (MiC)
The DEVB will promote the adoption of MiC in collaboration with the industry. The concept of “factory assembly followed by on-site installation” represents a shift of construction method from the traditional on-site process to modern off-site manufacturing and assembly. Labour-intensive operations such as fitting-out and building services works will be completed in off-site prefabrication yards. The prefabricated and prefinished modules will then be transported to the construction sites for installation. The Government aims to promote and lead the adoption of MiC in the construction industry through piloting MiC in public projects. In the long term, it is expected that MiC will improve construction productivity, expedite work progress, enhance site safety and ensure the quality of works.
Establishment of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction
We support the establishment of the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) by the CIC and are exploring the construction of a multi-storey campus in the existing CIC Tai Po Training Ground. To make optimal use of the limited land resources and meet future manpower demand of the construction industry, we are working to realise a development model of “single site, multiple use” by consolidating and providing a wide range of classrooms and facilities for craft training. The establishment of the HKIC will enhance the status of construction practitioners and put in place a clear career pathway. The HKIC will formulate and promote learning programmes including diploma courses recognised by the Qualifications Framework, through which learners can get accreditation gradually while receiving occupational training.
Enhancing communication and reaching consensus
In addressing labour shortages, the Government will continue to partner with the CIC and industry stakeholders to implement multi-pronged measures and project the supply and demand of construction workers on a regular basis. We will enhance training for skilled workers, attract more new entrants and improve productivity of the industry. I am glad to see that our measures are gradually delivering results. Over the past three years (from August 2015 to August 2017), more than 13 000 skilled workers were trained up by the CIC. Meanwhile, the number of registered workers increased by more than 30 percent (from approximately 335 000 to about 454 000, with an average monthly increase of over 3 000).
To further promote the sustainable development of the construction industry, we will give all-out support to take forward the various policy initiatives outlined in this year’s Policy Address. The Government will continue to implement capital works projects in an appropriate and orderly manner so as to improve people’s quality of life, promote economic development, create job opportunities and enhance the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong. With the Legislative Council just resuming its meetings, I hope that government officials and legislators will enhance communication both inside and outside the council to ensure the timely implementation of various works projects while monitoring funding applications. With shared goals and vision, we strive to work for the best interests of our community as a whole. Let us turn Hong Kong into a more progressive society with growth on all fronts and brighten the prospects of our construction industry together.
22 October, 2017