The construction industry has been playing a vital role in promoting Hong Kong’s economic and social development. The overall construction expenditure of the public and private sectors in the next few years is forecast to exceed $300 billion per year in Hong Kong, indicating a keen demand for skilled workers. Over the years, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been proactively offering training for potential young entrants and in-service workers. The Hong Kong Construction Industry Trade Testing Centre, under the CIC, in Aberdeen provides advanced trade testing services for workers to acquire recognised qualifications to enhance their professional status. This time, I have invited examiners from the CIC to give us a detailed introduction.
Enhancing training to upgrade skill levels
In view of the challenges of labour shortage and an ageing workforce in the construction industry, and the keen demand for skilled workers arising from infrastructure development projects in the short to medium term, the Financial Secretary announced in the Budget that he would allocate $200 million to expand the apprenticeship scheme for the construction industry to cover more trades with manpower shortage, including the bar bender and fixer, metal worker, general welder, plumber, leveler, electrical wireman and construction plant mechanic, and increase the allowances for new trainees pursuing one-year full time programmes to encourage and attract in-service workers to pursue continuing education and enhance their skill levels. The CIC will support the implementation of various measures.
Establishing standards to elevate professional status
The Hong Kong Construction Industry Trade Testing Centre, originally named Aberdeen Training Centre, was completed in 1989 and started to conduct trade tests for the construction industry in 1990. The centre was renamed in January this year, and is now providing about 150 trade tests for skilled workers (Tradesmen) or semi-skilled workers (Intermediate Tradesmen), covering categories of Plumber, Metal Worker, Plasterer, Refrigeration/Air-Conditioning/Ventilation Mechanic, etc.
The Manager (Trade Testing) of the centre, Mr LAU Wing-fai, Robert, says that skilled workers can obtain recognised qualifications through trade tests, which set technical standards for them, affirm their skill levels and establish a skill hierarchy to elevate their promotion prospects and status. In addition, trade testing can also help the industry employ suitable technical talents. The Trade Testing Superintendent of the centre, Mr LI Cheung-on, points out that in the past few years, especially after the “designated workers for designated skills” requirement under the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance took effect in April 2017, the number of candidates for the trade tests has continued to rise. More than 23,700 candidates attended the tests in the centre last year, which is 30 percent more than the average number over the past decade.
Modular testing workshops with mobilised facilities
In order to meet the needs of different trade tests, the centre has adopted a modular design with mobilised facilities in the testing workshops. For example, the electrical testing workshop in the electrical and mechanical testing workshop can be transformed into a fire services mechanics testing workshop by replacement of workshop panels. Modular design not only facilitates the combination of testing workshops and shortens processing time for trade tests, but also provides flexibility in meeting market demand for different trade tests.
The centre has formulated a number of new measures this year, including the enhancement of trade testing procedures and active promotion of electronic systems. Centralised timing systems and electronic written test systems are two examples. An examiner in the carpenter trade testing workshop has even demonstrated to us how to assess the works of the candidates using an infrared level instrument. Besides increasing the efficiency and accuracy of marking, these measures can make examination procedures more systematic as well.
Capitalising on opportunities and scaling new heights
A young Instructor Assistant of the centre has shared with us how he became an Intermediate Tradesman and then a Tradesman through trade tests. With a target to become an instructor, he wishes to continue to study relevant courses while working. I am pleased to see the confidence of our young practitioners in the future of the construction industry and that they are working towards becoming a professional.
I look forward to working whole-heartedly with the CIC and the construction industry to nurture new blood for the industry. By enhancing the quality, image and competitiveness of the industry, we can capitalise on future development opportunities and scale new heights.
17 March, 2019Back