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LCQ10: Demand of public works projects for construction manpower

Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 5):

Question:

There are comments that the Government's implementation of major infrastructure projects one after another and endeavour to construct more public housing have resulted in manpower shortage in the construction industry and a surge in the costs of various public works projects.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the following information in respect of each of the public works projects completed in the past three years with project costs of $1 billion or above: (i) name of the project, (ii) cost of the project, (iii) respective numbers of construction workers and professionals hired during the peak construction period, and (iv) date of completion of the project (set out in below Table);

(i)     (ii)     (iii)     (iv)
---     ----     -----     ----


(2) of the following information in respect of each of the public works projects currently under construction with project costs of $1 billion or above: (i) name of the project, (ii) projected cost of the project, (iii) respective projected numbers of construction workers and professionals to be hired during the peak construction period, and (iv) estimated date of completion of the project (set out in below Table);

(i)     (ii)     (iii)     (iv)
---     ----     -----     ----


(3) whether it knows the respective total numbers of construction workers hired for the public/subsidised housing projects under the Hong Kong Housing Authority ("HA") and the Hong Kong Housing Society in each of the past three years, as well as the respective projected total numbers of construction workers to be hired for these two types of projects in each of the coming two years;

(4) whether it knows the total number of construction workers hired under the railway projects undertaken by the MTR Corporation Limited ("MTRCL") in each of the past three years, as well as the projected total number of construction workers to be hired for such projects in each of the coming two years;

(5) of the respective shortfalls in construction workers for works projects undertaken by the Government, HA and MTRCL in each of the past three years, and the details (set out in Appendix 1); and

(6) whether it has conducted long-term tracking studies to find out if the students of the training programmes offered by the Construction Industry Council are engaged in the construction industry within 24 months after completion of such programmes, and if such students have intention to stay in the industry for the long term; if it has conducted such studies, of the details; if not, whether it will consider conducting such studies?

Reply:

President,

My reply to the six parts of the Hon Wu Chi-wai's question is as follows:

(1) In respect of the public works projects completed in the past three years with project costs at $1 billion or above, the project title, project cost, completion date, average daily number of construction workers hired during peak construction periods of these projects are set out at Annex A. Under the terms of public works contracts, contractors will be required by the relevant works departments to appoint only persons holding relevant professional qualifications to key posts such as site agents and project managers. Contractors will hire relevant professionals at different stages of the projects on a need basis.  Although we do not have a full picture of the data of the number of professionals hired by the contractors, the number of jobs created for professionals/ technical staff were estimated by the relevant works departments when funding approval for individual public works projects was sought from the Legislative Council (LegCo).  The relevant information is also set out at Annex A.

(2) In respect of public works projects under construction with project costs at $1 billion or above, the project title, project cost, anticipated completion date and number of construction workers required to be hired during peak construction periods of these projects are set out at Annex B.  Although works departments do not have a forecast on the number of professionals required to be hired during peak construction periods, they estimated the number of jobs for professionals/technical staff to be created in seeking funding approval for individual public works projects from LegCo.  The relevant information is also set out at Annex B.

(3) According to information provided by the Housing Department under the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), the number of construction workers hired for public housing projects under the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HKHA) and the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) for the past three years, and the forecast number of construction workers to be hired for public housing projects under construction in the coming two years are set out at Table 1.

(4) According to information provided by THB and prepared by the MTR Corporation Limited ("MTRCL"), the number of construction workers hired for the railway projects of the MTRCL for the past three years, and the forecast number of construction workers to be hired for this kind of projects in the coming two years are set out at Table 2.

(5) According to information provided by THB and prepared by MTRCL, the shortfalls in construction workers for the railway works projects for the past three years are set out at Table 3.

Works departments and the Housing Department do not have figures on the shortfalls of construction workers for their works projects for the past three years.

To grasp the manpower situation of construction personnel, since 2013, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been conducting manpower studies on the forecast supply and demand of construction professionals, site supervisory personnel, technicians and workers over the coming 10 years.  According to the latest report on manpower forecast for construction workers released by CIC in September 2014, the construction industry as a whole (including public and private works) needs close to 10 000 additional skilled workers in 2014.  This has taken into account the forecast construction output, number of in-service workers and their age distribution, training and other relevant factors.

As regards labour shortage of individual trades, the manpower demand for each trade varies with work progress, which is in turn affected by various factors.  Thus we have difficulty in making more accurate projection or estimation on short-term manpower shortage of individual trades.  Nonetheless, CIC set up, in early 2014, a Task Force on Short-term Labour Supply (hereafter referred to as the Task Force) (the Task Force comprises representatives of the Hong Kong Construction Association, the Hong Kong Federation of Electrical & Mechanical Contractors Ltd., the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, the Federation of Hong Kong Electrical and Mechanical Industries Trade Unions, Construction Site Workers General Union of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, MTRCL, HKHA and the Development Bureau).  Having considered the relevant manpower studies (including the aforementioned manpower forecast conducted by CIC), surveys and training schemes, and following thorough discussions, 26 shortage trades have now been identified by the Task Force.  Please refer to Annex C for the list of these trades.

Since mid-2013, telephone surveys have been conducted by CIC on a regular basis to collect and analyse data relating to registered construction workers so as to better gauge the employment situation of registered construction workers.  According to the data collected by CIC in mid-2014, construction workers work for about five days a week on average.  Given that the construction work is physically demanding, these workers are considered fully engaged.  This also reflects the tight manpower situation of the construction industry.

(6) To keep track of the retention situation of graduates of full-time training courses for construction workers, CIC has conducted telephone surveys on the employment situation of its graduates twelve months after graduation.  For graduates who completed the full-time adult short courses (including courses under the Enhanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme as well as regular short courses) in 2012 and 2013, their retention rates at 12 months after graduation are set out at Table 4.

According to CIC's previous surveys, the reasons of their graduates to continue to work in the industry include satisfaction with their salaries, being content with the prospect of the industry, being able to apply the skills acquired and being familiar with the situation of the industry, etc.

Attachments:

Ends/Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:47

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