Strengthening the Manpower Supply
To cope with the tight manpower situation of the construction industry, we have obtained a total of $420 million from the LegCo since 2010 to support the Construction Industry Council (CIC) in stepping up training for local construction personnel and in organising promotion and publicity for attracting more new entrants, particularly young people, to join the construction industry. From 2009 to 2015, CIC has trained more than 18 000 semi-skilled workers.
Amongst other training initiatives, we have collaborated with CIC to launch the “Enhanced Construction Manpower Training Scheme” for training semi-skilled workers with enhanced training allowances, targeting trades with projected labour shortage, acute ageing or recruitment difficulties. Further, to diversify the modes of training and provide more training places, CIC has launched the “Contractor Cooperative Training Scheme”, under which trainees are hired and then trained on-site by contractors so as to acquire site experience at an early stage.
In May 2011, we collaborated with CIC to launch the “Build-Up Publicity Campaign” to project a positive image of the industry. The latest image tracking survey in 2015 has revealed that since the launch of the campaign, the percentage of young people interviewed who are willing to join the industry has been increased significantly from about 8% to over 25%.
The Labour Department set up a Construction Industry Recruitment Centre in January 2016 to help contractors recruit local construction workers and assist local construction workers to secure employment. The centre facilitates contractors to accord priority to employing qualified local skilled workers.
To meet the industry’s demand for construction supervisors and technicians, we and CIC have collaborated to launch the “Enhanced Construction Supervisor/Technician Training Scheme” in October 2012. CIC targets to train a total of 1 000 construction supervisors and technicians under the scheme. Up to end 2015, more than 600 trainees have undertaken the training courses.
Training of Skilled Workers
With the financial assistance from the Government, CIC rolled out a pilot scheme in September 2015 to upgrade the skills of semi-skilled workers to the levels of skilled workers with training allowances. The target number of training places under the pilot scheme is 1 000. Up to end 2015, the number of training place applications was about 300. We and CIC are closely monitoring the progress of the pilot scheme. If the scheme is found effective in training skilled workers, we will explore with CIC and industry stakeholders on how best to continue with the scheme.
Providing Clear Progression Pathways, Training of Ethnic Minorities and Attracting more Female Workers
We, CIC and Vocational Training Council are devising clear progression pathways for construction workers to enhance their academic level such as higher diploma or degree to attract more young people to join the construction industry. CIC is open to collaborate with relevant institutions for the best interests of the graduates as well as the industry at large.
CIC rolled out another pilot scheme in end 2015 for training ethnic minorities who are currently general workers to semi-skilled workers levels. We and CIC have been closely liaising with ethnic minority organisations to identify suitable training programmes. Up to end 2015, there have been 60 training places under the pilot scheme. On the other hand, CIC keeps close contact with female organisations to better understand female’s interest and concerns for working in the industry, and arrange promotion programmes to attract more female to join the industry.
Importation of Construction Workers
Although the on-going initiatives have attained certain results, the shortage problem of skilled construction workers has yet to be resolved. According to CIC’s manpower forecast released in December 2015, there will be shortage of about 10 000 to 15 000 skilled workers in the industry in the coming years, having taken into account the latest forecast construction output, training and other relevant factors.
Under the premise of safeguarding the priority employment of local workers and their wage levels, the construction industry needs to import skilled workers in a timely and effective manner in order to cope with the keen manpower demand to sustain the economic and social development of Hong Kong.
In April 2014, the Government rolled out enhancement measures to help expedite the preparatory work of public sector works contractors in Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS) applications involving 26 trades with manpower shortage. In recent years, it took an average of 7.5 months in processing construction-related SLS applications. Since the launch of the enhanced measures to end November 2015, the average processing time for the above-mentioned applications has been shortened to around six months.
In May 2015, the Government implemented flexibility enhancement measures under the SLS with due regard to the unique characteristics of the construction industry. The public sector works contractors are given greater flexibility in deploying imported workers to work across more than a single specified public sector works contract under the same contractor with a view to bringing about a synergy that will enhance the utilisation of productivity in a more effective manner.
The Government will review the effectiveness of the aforementioned measures in a timely manner. If these measures still cannot effectively resolve the acute shortage problem of construction skilled workers, the Government will explore with the construction industry and labour sector the introduction of other more effective and appropriate measures to meet the needs of the Hong Kong’s economic and social development.
Implementation of “Designated Workers for Designated Skills” under Construction Workers Registration Ordinance
The registration system under the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (CWRO) (Cap. 583) recognises the skill levels of construction workers to raise their status, ensures the quality of construction work, and provides reliable manpower data to facilitate manpower planning and training. The Phase One Prohibition under CWRO has been implemented since 2007 and the construction industry generally complies with its requirements.
Following the passage of the amendment Bill to CWRO in 2014, we target to implement the remaining phase8 of prohibition on “designated workers for designated skills” in 2017. To ensure smooth implementation of the new requirement, we are working closely with CIC in conducting an extensive publicity campaign and deploying outreaching teams to facilitate eligible workers applying for registration at their working places.
8 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.