We continue to keep up our efforts to facilitate the transformation of Kowloon East into another core business district to support Hong Kong’s economic development. At present, Kowloon East has about 2.4 million square metres of commercial/office floor area, with potential to further supply approximately 4.6 million square metres in future (including 1.8 million in Kai Tak Development and 0.56 million from the two Action Areas). The Energizing Kowloon East initiative has already built up the urban transformation momentum in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. We will extend the initiative to San Po Kong, particularly focusing on enhancing connectivity, improving the environment, and promoting vibrancy and diversified development.
We continue to implement the concept of walkability in Kowloon East to improve the pedestrian environment. These include carrying out detailed design for an additional footbridge next to MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit B to enhance connectivity with the future East Kowloon Cultural Centre and nearby residential areas, studying the design of the extension of the pedestrian subway network connecting to Ngau Tau Kok Station, and investigating the feasibility of providing a new footbridge near Kowloon Bay Station Exit A and another one across Wai Yip Street near Siu Yip Street.
In addition to the ongoing open space projects of Tsun Yip Street Playground and Tsui Ping River Garden, we will take forward other public open space improvement projects in Kowloon East.
The construction industry in Hong Kong has been facing the challenges of high construction cost, shortage in skilled labour and declining productivity. The Government is proactively promoting innovative construction methods and advanced technology to enhance productivity and cost-effectiveness.
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) will establish a new Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre (CITAC) by the end of this year to provide latest information on local and overseas construction technologies with a view to supporting their adoption by small and medium enterprises. It strives to become an industry-led and demand driven innovation centre linking businesses, universities, research and development centres and, where appropriate, the public sector to support innovation transformation for the entire construction industry. In the long run, the CITAC aims at establishing a global research network to promote interdisciplinary research and application on enhancement of productivity.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology allows construction professionals to carry out design and construction works in a virtual environment, which helps avoid changes in the construction process as far as possible, reduce risks and render clarity to project costs in various stages including the operation and facility management stages. In addition to adopting BIM technology in the design and construction of major government capital works projects scheduled to start in 2018, we will also collaborate with the CIC to strengthen BIM training for relevant professionals, develop related technical standards and guidelines, and encourage the use of this technology in private construction projects.
The Government is assisting the industry to establish large-scale, highly automated steel reinforcing bar prefabrication plants for production of prefabricated steel reinforcement components. We will encourage the industry to use it widely in construction projects.
We will collaborate with the construction industry to promote “Modular Integrated Construction (MiC)”. By adopting the concept of “factory assembly followed by on-site installation” and the mode of manufacturing, conventional labour-intensive site operations, such as fitting-out and building services works, etc., will be industrialised and completed in off-site prefabrication yard. The prefabricated and prefinished modules will then be transported to construction site for installation. MiC could uplift productivity, shorten construction time, enhance construction safety and improve quality of the works. We are considering piloting MiC in public building projects to play an exemplary role in promoting MiC in Hong Kong.
Infrastructure development will continue at a high level. Together with the demand for construction services in the private sector, CIC forecasts a total construction volume of over $250 billion per annum in the coming 10 years. In collaboration with the CIC, we have embarked on a host of multi-pronged measures to maintain a construction workforce of sufficient strength and quality to meet the industry’s manpower demand in future.
With the approval of the Legislative Council Finance Committee, we have allocated a total of $420 million since 2010 for the CIC to strengthen the training of local construction personnel and step up promotion to attract new blood. From January 2009 to August 2017, the CIC has trained about 27 000 semi-skilled and skilled workers. The total annual training output of CIC in 2009 and 2016 are 900 and 5 200 respectively, representing an increase of 470%. Based on the findings of the CIC’s image tracking surveys, young interviewees willing to join the industry has increased significantly from about 8% in 2011 to about 24% in 2017. During the same period, the number of registered general and skilled/semi-skilled workers has also increased by 35% and 115% respectively. Progress of the various training and promotion measures is detailed at Annex II.
The CIC is strengthening its effort to enhance collaborative training schemes and upgrade the skills of in-service general workers including ethnic minority workers. To encourage contractors and their subcontractors to enhance in-service skills training, we have introduced a new technical score on worker training in the tender evaluation mechanism for public works contracts since August 2017.
To train more high-calibre and professional construction practitioners, the CIC will establish the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) in the first half of 2018. Apart from upgrading the current skill training programmes to reflect technological advancements, HKIC plans to provide a clear career pathway for skilled workers and practitioners. Programmes leading to qualifications recognised by the Qualification Framework (QF), such as diploma courses (QF Level 3), will be offered. Upon the establishment of HKIC, the CIC targets to increase its annual training output from about 5 000 to over 8 000 graduates. Meanwhile, the Government is exploring the use of a piece of land in Tai Po for the CIC to construct a multi-storey campus to tie in with the establishment of HKIC.
For public sector projects, we estimate that the annual capital works expenditure would exceed $100 billion in a few years’ time. With ever-increasing project complexity and rising aspirations from the public, there is an imminent need to reinforce project management competency and leadership skills of government major project leaders. Drawing on overseas experience, we will study the establishment of a major project leaders academy to provide sustained high-level leadership professional training so as to equip major project leaders in the Government with world-class leadership skills in the delivery of public works projects.