With the onset of major infrastructure projects and other construction works, the construction output will be maintained at a high level. The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has undertaken the forecast for the supply and demand of construction workers in the coming ten years. It revealed that the manpower demands of the industry will continue to increase in coming years. Further, the industry is facing ageing and skills mismatch.
Since 2008-09, DEVB has adopted a series of measures to tackle the challenges. DEVB obtained a total of $320 million in 2010 and 2012 from the LegCo to support CIC to enhance the training for construction personnel, and to enhance promotion and publicity activities to attract more people to join the construction industry, especially the young people.
To target trades with projected labour shortage, acute ageing or recruitment difficulties, we collaborate with CIC to launch the Enhanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme (ECMTS) with enhanced training allowances to train about 6 000 semi-skilled workers by end 2014. Up to November 2013, about 4 300 trainees have joined ECMTS and about 55% of them were aged below 35 and most of the ECMTS graduates were new entrants, indicating that more younger people are interested to join the construction industry. About 3 300 ECMTS trainees have graduated.
Further, to diversify the modes of training and provide more training places, CIC has launched a series of training initiatives. In 2009, they rolled out the “Contractors Cooperative Training Scheme” (CCTS), whereby contractors hire trainees, train them on-site with CIC’s subsidies. CCTS facilitates trainees to acquire early on-site experience. In mid 2013, CIC rolled out new training initiatives including extending CCTS to electrical and mechanical (E&M) trades and collaborating with sub-contractors. CIC also provides subsidy to students who will join the E&M apprenticeship in the construction industry after completing the Basic Craft Certificates of Vocational Training Council. Further, CIC subsidises contractors employing ECMTS graduates in order to further enhance their skills and productivity.
To advance the skill levels of the in-service workers and cope with skills mismatch, CIC provides subsidies for fees of trade tests and specified training courses to encourage workers possessing relevant trade skills and experience to register as skilled workers. CIC also provides subsidies for skills enhancement courses for trades with relatively lower passing rates of trade tests.
In 2011, we collaborated with CIC to launch the “Build Up Publicity Campaign” to uplift the image of the construction industry. Recent image tracking surveys revealed that the percentage of young people interviewed who are willing to join the industry has been increased significantly to more than 20%, as compared with that of only 7.9% before the launch. Further, from the launch of the “Build Up Publicity Campaign” to November 2013, the number of registered construction workers has increased by about 18%, reflecting the effectiveness of the promotional effort. To sustain the momentum of the campaign, we are collaborating with CIC to take forward the next wave of promotion and publicity activities to project a youthful, energetic and professional image of the industry in order to attract more new blood to join the industry. Major initiatives include producing TV drama7 on the industry, introducing the Build Up Ambassadors8, displaying of the newly designed trade and industry posters and banners through bus bodies, MTR light box advertisement, outdoor banners and site hoardings, etc.
To enhance job opportunity of construction workers, CIC will continue to organise job fairs with contractors and facilitate job matching of employers and job seekers through the implementation of “JobsNet”, a free online employment platform. To attract more new blood, the construction industry will continue to make endeavours to enhance the site working environment and construction safety. On the other hand, we have devised relevant guidelines on the design and construction practices, and encourage more mechanisations to reduce the demand of skilled workers.
In the long term, we endeavour to meet the construction manpower demand through training local workers and attracting new entrants to the construction industry. In the years to come, the industry is facing tightening manpower situation. With due regard to the principle of not affecting the employment and reasonable income level of local construction workers, we shall make full use of the prevailing “Supplementary Labour Scheme” to timely import skilled workers to meet the manpower demand for the construction works. Further, this eases the pressure on the demand of local in-service skilled workers so that they can be available to nurture the graduates through in-service training with an aim to advancing their skill levels to meet the proficiency levels of skilled workers.
We will continue to monitor the manpower situation of construction personnel, and collaborate with CIC and relevant industry stakeholders to launch various measures to address manpower demand.
7 DEVB, together with CIC and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), has jointly produced a new series of TV drama on the industry, entitled “Dreams Come True”, featuring motivational stories of young people in the industry. A total of seven episodes of “Dreams Come True” are scheduled to be broadcasted on consecutive Mondays from 13 January 2014 to 24 February 2014, from 8:30pm to 9:00pm on RTHK Digital Terrestrial Television (Channel 31). The TV drama will also be live casted and archived at RTHK's website (rthk.hk).
8 13 Build-up Ambassadors have been selected by a judging panel formed by CIC to promote the image of the construction industry through participating in publicity activities and sharing their personal stories.
Amendment of the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance
The registration system under the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (CWRO) can recognise the skill levels of construction workers to raise their status, ensure the quality of construction work, and provide reliable manpower data to facilitate manpower planning and training. Following the implementation of the Phase One Prohibition under CWRO in 2007, the construction industry generally complies with its requirements. To cope with the possible difficulties encountered in implementing the remaining phase of the Prohibition9, we have set up a Task Force with industry stakeholders to formulate the proposed legislative amendments in order to facilitate smooth implementation of the remaining phase of the Prohibition.
From September to October 2013, we conducted industry-wide briefing jointly with CIC to widely inform stakeholders of the proposed amendments and briefed workers during the morning exercises on construction sites. We plan to introduce an amendment bill into the LegCo in the second quarter of 2014 for an early implementation of the remaining phase of Prohibition.
9 Under Phase One Prohibition, construction workers carrying out construction works at construction sites shall be registered. The registration qualification of a general construction worker is possession of a valid Construction Industry Safety Training Certificate (also known as “Green Card”). Upon the implementation of the remaining phase of the Prohibition, workers carrying out trade works shall meet the registration qualification and registered as skilled or semi-skilled workers of that particular trade, or under instruction and supervision of a registered skilled or semi-skilled worker of that particular trade