CHAPTER 5
EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

The Programme of Employment Services

(http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/service/content.htm)

   
5.1

One of the foremost concerns of the Labour Department in 2005 was to promote employment. To complement the job creation efforts of the Government, we give every assistance to local job-seekers, particularly the more vulnerable groups. The objective of the Employment Services Programme is to provide a comprehensive range of free and efficient employment assistance and counselling services to help job-seekers find suitable jobs and employers fill their vacancies. We achieve this by:

  • providing user-friendly employment services to employers and job-seekers;
  • offering intensive employment-related assistance and personal service to vulnerable groups of unemployed people;
  • assisting young people to enhance their employability and advising them on careers choice;
  • regulating local employment agencies;
  • safeguarding the interests of local employees employed by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories; and
  • ensuring that employment opportunities for local workers are not adversely affected by abuse of the labour importation scheme.
   
5.2 The two principal legislation administered by this programme area are the Employment Agency Regulations made under the Employment Ordinance and the Contracts for Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance.
   
5.3

The Employment Agency Regulations, together with Part XII of the Employment Ordinance, regulate the operation of employment agencies in Hong Kong through a licensing system, inspection, investigation and prosecution.

   
5.4

The Contracts for Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance safeguards the interests of local manual workers and those non-manual employees with monthly wages not exceeding $20,000 who are recruited by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories through the attestation of employment contracts for these jobs.

   

Our Work and Achievements in 2005

Employment Situation in Hong Kong

5.5

The labour market remained buoyant in 2005. The department received an all-time high of 425 952 vacancies from the private sector, a hefty increase of 43 per cent when compared with 297 186 in 2004. For data on labour force, unemployment rate and underemployment rate, please visit the following webpage: http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hong_kong_statistics/statistical_tables/
index.jsp?charsetID=1&subjectID=2&tableID=006
.

   

Key Indicators of Work

5.6

To better serve the public, the department vigorously stepped up its employment services for job-seekers. A record-high figure of 113 090 placements was achieved for 2005, up 31 per cent over the level of 86 257 in 2004. (Figures 5.1 and 5.2)

   

A Wider Service Choice

Services offered at Job Centres

5.7

Job-seekers can select suitable vacancies and seek referral service at all job centres. Modern facilities such as digital display system, self-service touch-screen vacancy search terminals, fax machines, toll-free telephones, computers connected to the Internet and a careers information corner are available.

 
User-friendly facilities for job-seekers at a job centre. User-friendly facilities for job-seekers at a job centre.
 
Secretary for the Civil Service Mr Joseph Wong Wing-ping and Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour) Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung try out the vacancy search terminal at a job centre. Secretary for the Civil Service Mr Joseph Wong Wing-ping and Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour) Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung try out the vacancy search terminal at a job centre.
   
5.8 Through the Job Matching Programme, placement officers help job-seekers evaluate their academic qualifications, job skills, work experience and job preferences, and encourage them to look for suitable jobs actively. Placement officers also introduce suitable retraining courses to job-seekers where appropriate.
 
A placement officer provides employment counselling service to a job-seeker under the Job Matching Programme. A placement officer provides employment counselling service to a job-seeker under the Job Matching Programme.
   
Telephone Employment Service
5.9 Job-seekers registered at the Labour Department may call our Telephone Employment Service Centre on 2969 0888 for job referral service. Through conference calls, staff of the Centre can make arrangement for job-seekers to talk to employers directly.
   

Internet Employment Service

5.10

Our Interactive Employment Service (iES) website (http://www.jobs.gov.hk) provides round-the-clock Internet employment service and comprehensive employment information. The iES is one of the most popular government websites in Hong Kong, accounting for about one-third of the page views for all government websites. In 2005, the iES achieved a record number of 869 million page views, an increase of 27 per cent over 2004. It hyperlinks with leading employment websites in Hong Kong and hosts a number of dedicated webpages for specific clientele groups. The iES was awarded the Championship of 2005 Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme - e-Service Team Award.

 
The highly popular Interactive Employment Service website. The highly popular Interactive Employment Service website.
   
Central Processing of Job Vacancies
5.11 Employers who need to recruit staff can send their vacancy information to our Job Vacancy Processing Centre by fax (2566 3331) or telephone (2503 3377) or through the Internet (http://www.jobs.gov.hk). Vacancy information will be posted at all job centres and uploaded onto the iES through computer network in one working day.
   
Special Recruitment and Promotional Activities
5.12 We organise a variety of activities to promote our employment services. Visits and briefings are conducted to appeal for vacancies from employers. Recruitment seminars and job fairs are held to facilitate job-seekers and employers to meet and communicate directly. In 2005, these special recruitment and promotional activities included territory-wide large-scale job fairs as well as thematic functions such as "Job Fair for Tertiary Education Graduates". To assist job-seekers living in remote areas in securing employment, large-scale job fairs were held in Tin Shui Wai, Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun, Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi. Moreover, to respond more promptly to the recruitment needs of employers and provide a more user-friendly service to job-seekers of different districts, we held job fairs at our major job centres to assist employers to recruit local staff and to enable job-seekers to participate in job interviews without long-distance travelling. These activities reached out to some 133 000 job-seekers and employers.
 
Large-scale recruitment activities provide opportunities for job-seekers and employers to meet and communicate directly. Large-scale recruitment activities provide opportunities for job-seekers and employers to meet and communicate directly.
   

Intensified Services for the Most Needy

Middle-aged Job-seekers

5.13 The Employment Programme for the Middle-aged was launched in May 2003 to provide intensive employment service to job-seekers aged 40 or above. Employers who engage a participant of the programme in a full-time long-term post and offer him on-the-job training will receive a training allowance of $1,500 per month, for up to three months. As at the end of 2005, 18 040 placements were achieved through the programme.
   

Work Trial Scheme (WTS)

5.14

We launched the Work Trial Scheme in June 2005 to enhance the employability of job-seekers who have special difficulties in finding jobs. There is no age limit for applicants. During the one-month work-trial, participants will be arranged to work in jobs offered by participanting organisations. On completion of the one-month work trial, the Labour Department will pay each participant an allowance of $4,500, while the participating organisation will contribute an additional allowance of $500. As at the end of 2005, a total of 321 job-seekers had been placed into work trials.

   

Local Domestic Helpers (LDHs)

5.15

To address the mismatch in supply and demand in the LDH market and to promote LDH service, the Special Incentive Allowance Scheme was launched in June 2003. A sum of $60 million was earmarked to provide incentive allowance to qualified LDHs who are willing to work across districts or during unsocial hours (i.e. outside 9 am to 5 pm on Monday to Friday). It is estimated that some 8 000 LDHs will benefit from the scheme. Successful applicants will receive an allowance of $50 per day, with an overall cap of $7,200. As at year end, there were about 6 150 approved applications. The scheme rules were further relaxed in December 2005 to allow more flexibility for eligible LDHs to make claims. In the year, we continued to publicise our dedicated employment services for LDHs through the website of the iES, roving exhibitions, job fairs and many other promotional efforts.

   

New Arrivals

5.16

We provide through our job centres a comprehensive range of employment services to new arrivals. These include employment counselling, job referral, employment briefing and employment information.

   

Workers affected by Large-scale Retrenchment

5.17

In the event of major retrenchment, we will assign special counters at the job centres or will render on-the-spot employment services to workers affected. In 2005, the service reached out to 3 376 retrenched workers of 25 companies.

   

Job-seekers with Disabilities

5.18

The Selective Placement Division (SPD) offers employment assistance to disabled job-seekers looking for open employment. Placement officers will provide personalised counselling, employment services and, where appropriate, make referrals to tailor-made retraining programmes. In 2005, the SPD registered 3 920 disabled job-seekers and helped place 2 459 of them into employment, representing an all-time high placement rate of 62.7%. (Figure 5.3)

 
A Placement Officer of the SPD accompanies her client to attend a job interview. A Placement Officer of the SPD accompanies her client to attend a job interview.
   
Work Orientation and Placement Scheme
5.19 In April 2005, the Labour Department launched the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme to enhance the employability of people with disabilities. The scheme features pre-employment training to disabled job-seekers on job-search/interviewing techniques and communication/interpersonal skills, etc, as well as a monthly allowance to the participating employers equivalent to half-month's wages of each disabled employee engaged (subject to a ceiling of $3,000) for up to three months. As at year end, the scheme recorded 279 disabled participants in this training programme and achieved 262 work placements.
   
Self Help Integrated Placement Service
5.20

The Self Help Integrated Placement Service (SHIPS) aims at improving the job-searching skills of disabled job-seekers and encouraging them to be more proactive in the search for jobs, thereby enhancing their employment opportunities. In 2005, 520 disabled job-seekers participated in the programme. The overall placement rate was about 70 per cent.

   
Interactive Selective Placement Service (iSPS) Website
5.21

The SPD launched an Interactive Selective Placement Service (iSPS) Website (http://www.jobs.gov.hk/isps) in January 2003 to provide enhanced employment services for disabled job-seekers and employers through the Internet. The website enables disabled persons to register or renew their registrations with the SPD, browse job vacancy information and perform preliminary job-matching. It also enables employers to place vacancy orders with the SPD, identify suitable disabled job-seekers to fill their vacancies and request the SPD to refer candidates to them for selection interview. Response to the iSPS has been very favourable. In 2005, it recorded a total of 1.96 million page views and 9 894 online requests for the SPD's services.

   

Promotional Activities

5.22 During the year, the SPD organised the Outstanding Disabled Employees Award and the Enlightened Employers Award Presentation Ceremony and produced a series of radio programmes to enhance public understanding of the working abilities of people with disabilities. We also held seminars for employers and conducted special promotional campaigns on targeted trades to canvass job vacancies.
 
Representatives of a property management company (left and right) share their experience in employing disabled persons in a seminar organised by the SPD. Representatives of a property management company (left and right) share their experience in employing disabled persons in a seminar organised by the SPD.
   

Services for Young People

Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme (YWETS)

5.23 The YWETS features 50 hours of career guidance and counselling services to trainees by case managers who are registered social workers; 40 hours of induction training on communication and interpersonal skills for trainees; a training subsidy payable to employers at the rate of $2,000 per trainee per month during the training period; and a training allowance of $4,000 payable to trainees who undertake vocational training courses on an off-the-job basis.
   
5.24

In 2005, the YWETS continued to develop special tailor-made projects for industries and individual establishments. The integration of the YWETS with the YPTP enables the running of "through train" training programmes under which pre-employment job skill training custom-made to suit a company's needs is provided under the YPTP to be immediately followed by on-the-job training under the YWETS. This new mode of training is popular amongst large establishments and enables trainees to be engaged in decent work and attain sustainable career development.

 
Trainees receive pre-employment job skill training at a project tailor-made for an establishment.
 
Trainees receive pre-employment job skill training at a project tailor-made for an establishment. Trainees receive pre-employment job skill training at a project tailor-made for an establishment.
   
5.25 The target of providing 20 000 training places for young people by July 2006 was achieved in early April 2005, 16 months ahead of schedule. As at the end of 2005, 26 084 trainees were successfully placed in training vacancies under the scheme. In addition, 14 257 trainees were placed in other jobs in the open employment market with the advice and assistance of their case managers.
   
5.26

Feedback from trainees, employers and case managers on the YWETS is highly favourable. Independent consultants from the Centre for Social Policy Studies of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University also confirmed the effectiveness of the scheme in enhancing the employability of young people in a comprehensive review on the scheme that was completed in 2005.

   

Youth Pre-employment Training Programme (YPTP)

5.27

In 2005, we continued with the YPTP and provided a wide range of employment-related training and workplace attachment opportunities to over 9 200 young persons aged between 15 and 19. Government departments, training bodies and voluntary agencies join hands to provide the following four modular training: (a) leadership, discipline and team building; (b) job-search and interpersonal skills; (c) elementary/ intermediate computer application; and (d) job-specific skills training. Organisations from the private and public sectors as well as social welfare agencies offer workplace attachment places for trainees so they can obtain practical work experience and better understand the real work environment. Professional youth workers are available to provide career counselling and support services throughout the programme. In the new phase of the programme, we have added a number of training courses geared to market needs and have also introduced further improvements to the YPTP. To meet the different training needs of trainees and enhance their employability, they can now enroll into more skill courses and have more options in their choice of courses from the different modules. The workplace attachment allowance has also been increased from $1,000 to $2,000 to encourage more trainees to gain actual work experience. Apart from those who decided to pursue further studies on completion of the programme, over 70 per cent of the trainees had secured employment.

 
A YPTP trainee participates in leadership, discipline and team building training. A YPTP trainee participates in leadership, discipline and team building training.
 
Through job-specific skill training, a YPTP trainee learns about coffee mixing skill to prepare himself for entering the catering industry. Through job-specific skill training, a YPTP trainee learns about coffee mixing skill to prepare himself for entering the catering industry.
   
5.28 To maximise the benefits for trainees of the YPTP and the YWETS, a "Revolving Door" mechanism has been introduced by allowing them to move between the two programmes at different stages during the programme year. Together, the two programmes provide one-stop training and employment services to young people aged 15 to 24.
   
Youth Self-employment Support Scheme (YSSS)
5.29 The YSSS was launched in May 2004 as a pilot scheme to train and assist young people to become self-employed. Under the scheme, a total of 1 475 trainees had received one-year training and a full range of support services and facilities under 36 projects from commissioned non-government organisations.
   
5.30

To promote the YSSS and help trainees canvass business opportunities, different promotional activities were organised during the year. Among them, a large-scale Flea Market was held. When the scheme ended on 30 September 2005, the trainees had successfully completed 10 443 business transactions with profits of more than $5.1 million.

 
YSSS trainees give an interview to the media. YSSS trainees give an interview to the media.
 
A YSSS trainee explains his self-employed business to the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour) Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung (right) at the Flea Market. A YSSS trainee explains his self-employed business to the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Labour) Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung (right) at the Flea Market.
   
Careers Information and Guidance
5.31 Our Careers Advisory Service promotes careers education and helps young people choose a career best suited to their talents, interest and abilities. We provide up-to-date information on employment and training opportunities as well as careers counselling and guidance service through our careers information centre. In addition, people can visit our website (http://www.labour.gov.hk/careers) to gain quick access to a wide range of careers information.
 
A staff member of the Careers Advisory Service offers counselling service to students. A staff member of the Careers Advisory Service offers counselling service to students.
   
5.32 We organise a variety of careers activities throughout the year to enhance careers awareness among young people and provide them with first-hand careers information. In February, we organised the 15th Education and Careers Expo jointly with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to provide the latest information on careers development and further education opportunities. There were 477 participating exhibitors from a wide range of trades, government departments, professional bodies, as well as local and overseas educational and training institutes. The event, which attracted 185 191 visitors, was the most popular careers information event in Hong Kong.
 
The Labour Department provides careers information through the Education & Careers Expo 2005. The Labour Department provides careers information through the Education & Careers Expo 2005.
   
5.33 In July and August, we offered a special service package for Secondary 5 school leavers to provide them with a full range of counselling and information on careers and further education opportunities. A hotline and chat room service were set up. An Information Expo, which was held in collaboration with the Education and Manpower Bureau, attracted over 15 000 visitors. More than 96 000 copies of the tailor-made careers handbook were distributed.
   
5.34

One part-time foundation certificate course was organised for in-service careers masters in the 2005/2006 school year in collaboration with the Education and Manpower Bureau.

   
Regulating Local Employment Agencies and Employment Outside Hong Kong
5.35

We monitor the operation of employment agencies through licensing, inspection and investigation of complaints. In 2005, 1 650 employment agency licences were issued, four licences were revoked and two applications for issue of licence refused. As at year-end, there were 1 561 licensed employment agencies in Hong Kong. A total of 1 381 enforcement inspections were made to employment agencies in the year.

   
5.36

We regulate employment outside the territory to safeguard the interests of local employees engaged by employers outside Hong Kong to work in other territories by attesting all employment contracts entered in Hong Kong involving manual employees and non-manual employees with monthly wages not exceeding $20,000.

   

Regulating Labour Importation

Supplementary Labour Scheme

5.37

To cater for the genuine needs of employers, the department administers the Supplementary Labour Scheme that allows the entry of imported workers to take up jobs at technician level or below and which cannot be filled locally. The scheme operates on the principles of ensuring the priority of local workers in employment while allowing employers with proven local recruitment difficulties to import labour to fill the necessary job vacancies. As at the end of 2005, 1 009 workers were imported under the scheme in Hong Kong.

   
5.38

We provide active job matching and referral services to local job-seekers to ensure their employment priority. Vacancies under the scheme are widely publicised locally. To facilitate local workers in filling the vacancies, they could attend tailor-made retraining courses, if appropriate. Applications from employers who have set restrictive or unreasonable requirements in terms of age, education, sex, skill or experience for the vacancies or who have no genuine intention to employ local workers will be rejected.

   

Policy on Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs)

5.39

FDHs have been admitted to work in Hong Kong since 1970's. Like other migrant workers, they enjoy the same statutory rights and benefits as local employees. The Government attaches great importance to protecting the welfare of FDHs, and has taken every step to safeguard their statutory and contractual rights. Claims of breach of statutory rights will be promptly investigated and prosecution action will be taken if there is sufficient evidence. The rights and benefits of FDHs are also widely publicised. To this end, the Labour Department and the Immigration Department staged two Information Expos for FDHs at places they frequently gather on their rest days in October 2005. The expos were the first of its kind to reach out to the community. The Labour Department has also strengthened its ties with consulates of the FDH-exporting countries and non-government organisations serving FDHs to better address the concerns of the helpers.

   
5.40

As at the end of 2005, there were 223 200 FDHs in Hong Kong, an increase of 2.2 per cent compared with 218 430 in 2004. About 52.9 per cent of the FDHs in Hong Kong were from the Philippines and 43.4 per cent from Indonesia.