CHAPTER 5:Employment Services

The Programme of Employment Services
(www.labour.gov.hk/eng/service/content.htm)
 
5.1

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.
 

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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.

 

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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.
 

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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.

 

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Our Work and Achievements in 2009
   

Employment Situation in Hong Kong

5.5

The department posted a total of 589 564 vacancies from the private sector in 2009, a decrease of about 12% when compared with 671 770 in 2008. For updated statistics on the labour force, unemployment rate and underemployment rate, please visit the webpage: www.censtatd.gov.hk/hong_kong_statistics/statistical_tables/index.jsp?charsetID=1&
subjectID=2&tableID=006

 

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5.6

In 2009, because of the impact of the financial tsunami, even though the department stepped up its efforts in making 18.5% more job referrals for job-seekers over the preceding year, the number of placements achieved dropped to 120 870, down 17.4% as compared to the corresponding figure in 2008. (Figures 5.1 and 5.2)

 

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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 resource corner are available.

 

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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 match for suitable jobs actively. Placement officers also introduce suitable retraining courses to job-seekers where appropriate.

 

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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.

 

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On-line Employment Service

5.10

Our Interactive Employment Service (iES) website (www.jobs.gov.hk) provides round-the-clock on-line employment service and comprehensive employment information. The iES is one of the most popular government websites, recording over 1.17 billion page views and accounting for over 20 per cent of the page views for all government websites in Hong Kong in 2009. It hyperlinks with leading employment websites in Hong Kong and hosts a number of dedicated webpages for specific clientele.

 

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Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry

5.11

In February 2009, a Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry was set up to provide tailor-made job-matching service and on-the-spot interview arrangements for catering establishments and job-seekers.

Job-seekers registering for on-the-spot job interviews with employers in the Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry.

Job-seekers registering for on-the-spot job interviews with employers in the Recruitment Centre for the Catering Industry.

 

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Central Processing of Job Vacancies

5.12

Employers who need to recruit staff can send their vacancy information to our Job Vacancy Processing Centre by fax (2566 3331) or through the Internet (www.jobs.gov.hk). The vacancy information will be uploaded onto the iES website and posted at our job centres after vetting.

 

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Special Recruitment and Promotional Activities

5.13

We organise a variety of activities to promote our employment services and appeal for vacancies from employers. Job fairs are held to facilitate job-seekers and employers to meet and communicate directly. To assist job-seekers living in remote areas in securing employment, we held large-scale job fairs in Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun, Tsing Yi, Tung Chung and Fanling in 2009. 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 mini-job fairs at Job Centres to assist employers to recruit local staff and to enable job-seekers to participate in job interviews without having to travel long distance. In the year, 22 large-scale job fairs and 224 mini-job fairs were held, attracting some 71 800 job-seekers.

The Chief Executive, Mr. Donald TSANG visited a large-scale job fair organised by the Labour Department in Tin Shui Wai.

The Chief Executive, Mr. Donald TSANG visited a large-scale job fair organised by the Labour Department in Tin Shui Wai.

 

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5.14

To further strengthen the dissemination of local vacancy information and to promote Labour Department’s employment services, we have since 2009 organised “Job Info Days” and other district-based employment promotional activities at various districts. In the year, we organised 26 such events which attracted about 25 800 visitors.

 

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Intensified Services for the Needy
   

Middle-aged Job-seekers

5.15

The Employment Programme for the Middle-aged was launched in May 2003 to assist the unemployed aged 40 or above to secure employment. Employers who engage an eligible middle-aged job-seeker in a full-time permanent job and offer him/her on-the-job training will receive a training allowance of $1,500 per month, for up to three months. With effect from June 29, 2009, the training allowance payable to employers was increased to $2,000 per employee per month and the subsidy period for deserving cases was extended to a maximum of six months. As at the end of 2009, a total of 46 518 placements were secured through the programme.

 

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Work Trial Scheme (WTS)

5.16

 

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 without employer-employee relationship, participants take up jobs offered by participating organisations. On satisfactory completion of the one-month work trial, the Labour Department will pay each participant an allowance of $5,000, while the participating organisation will contribute an additional allowance of $500. As at year end, a total of 2 905 job-seekers were placed into work trials.

 

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Transport Support Scheme

5.17

Commencing in June 2007 and with eligibility criteria relaxed in July 2008, the Transport Support Scheme is designed to provide time-limited allowances as an incentive for needy job-seekers and low-income employees in the four designated remote districts of Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, the North and Islands with a view to encouraging them to “go out” to seek jobs and work across districts. Under the relaxed scheme, time-limited transport allowances, viz. Job Search Allowance of up to $600 and On-the-job Transport Allowance of $600 per month for up to 12 months are made available to eligible applicants.

As at the end of 2009, about 38 370 applicants have been admitted to the scheme.

 

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New Arrivals and Ethnic Minorities

5.18

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

 

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Workers affected by Large-scale Retrenchment

5.19

In major business closure or redundancy cases, the Labour Department sets up hotlines for enquiry and special counters at Job Centres to provide priority job referral and job matching services to affected employees. We appeal to employers to provide suitable vacancies and inform the affected employees of such vacancies to facilitate their job search. In addition, under the Department’s iES website, we set up a dedicated webpage to display vacancies offered by employers interested in recruiting job-seekers who lost their jobs in recent closure or redundancy exercises. In 2009, we offered priority placement services to 3 203 affected employees.

 

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Job-seekers with Disabilities

5.20

The Selective Placement Division (SPD) offers employment assistance to job-seekers with disabilities looking for open employment. Placement officers will provide personalised employment services, job matching services and, where appropriate, make referrals to tailor-made retraining programmes. In 2009, the SPD registered 3 185 job-seekers with disabilities and helped place 2 436 of them into employment. (Figure 5.3)

 

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Work Orientation and Placement Scheme

5.21

The Labour Department has launched the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme (WOPS) since April 2005 to enhance the employability of people with disabilities. The scheme features pre-employment training to job-seekers with disabilities on job-search/interviewing techniques and communication/ interpersonal skills, etc, as well as a monthly allowance to the participating employers. To further improve the employment opportunities of people with disabilities, the financial incentive to employers has been increased and the subsidy period extended as from 29 June 2009. Since then, employers participating in the scheme receive a monthly allowance from the Labour Department, equal to two-thirds of what they pay the employee with disabilities each month (subject to a ceiling of $4,000) for up to a maximum of six months. As at the end of 2009, the scheme achieved 1 623 work placements.

 

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Self Help Integrated Placement Service

5.22 The Self Help Integrated Placement Service (SHIPS) aims at improving the job-searching skills of job-seekers with disabilities and encouraging them to be more proactive in the search for jobs, thereby enhancing their employment opportunities. In 2009, 547 job-seekers with disabilities participated in the programme. The overall placement rate was about 75 per cent.
 

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Interactive Selective Placement Service (iSPS) Website

5.23

The Interactive Selective Placement Service (iSPS) Website (www.jobs.gov.hk/isps) provides employment services for job-seekers with disabilities and employers through the Internet. The website enables persons with disabilities to register with the SPD, browse job vacancy information and perform preliminary job-matching. It also enables employers to place vacancy orders, identify suitable job-seekers with disabilities to fill their vacancies and request the SPD to refer candidates to them for selection interview. The website was revamped in late 2009 to facilitate employers to browse information on the work capacity of people with disabilities more readily. At the same time, it helps people with disabilities to access to various on-line employment services and other related support services.

 

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Promotional Activities

5.24

To enhance public understanding of the working abilities of people with disabilities as well as to publicise the WOPS, the SPD conducted a series of promotional activities, such as exhibitions, production of various kinds of promotional advertisements and a video on successful employment cases of people with disabilities for public viewing during the year. In addition, a large-scale seminar was held for employers and special promotional campaigns on targeted trades were conducted to canvass job vacancies for people with disabilities.

 

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Services for Young People
   

Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme

5.25

The Youth Pre-employment Training Programme (YPTP) and the Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme (YWETS) provide full range of pre-employment and on-the-job-training to young people aged 15 to 24 with educational attainment at sub-degree level or below. The two programmes comprise diverse elements that cater for the different needs of young people with different interests and levels of educational attainment. Since their inception in 1999 and 2002 up to the programme year ending August 2009, YPTP has trained over 90 000 young people and YWETS has assisted some 62 000 in securing employment.

 

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5.26

The two programmes closely collaborated with training bodies to launch well-received special employment projects for industries and individual establishments. These projects included “tailor-made employment projects” co-organised with establishments offering large number of on-the-job training vacancies and “tailor-made training-cum-employment projects”. The latter provides pre-employment job skills training custom-made for a particular establishment under YPTP which was immediately followed by on-the-job training under YWETS. In the 2008/09 Programme, 19 special employment projects were run for employers in the retail, catering, tourism, education, business services and property management industries.

 

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5.27

In August, we organised the Award Ceremony of the Most Improved Trainees of YPTP and YWETS to showcase the benefits brought to the trainees through the programmes and commend the caring efforts of training bodies and employers. Trainees’ recollection of their experience in striving for improvement constituted the best encouragement to their peers. It was also a sterling testimony to the achievements of the trainees, training bodies, employers and the Government in nurturing the development of the younger generation.

Award Ceremony of the Most Improved Trainees of YPTP and YWETS 2009.

Award Ceremony of the Most Improved Trainees of YPTP and YWETS 2009.

 

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5.28

To proactively assist young people in navigating their career journey, in September, we enhanced the YPTP and YWETS and integrated them into a “through-train” programme – “YPTP ‧ YWETS” — to provide seamless and comprehensive youth training and employment support.

 

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5.29

Under the revamped programme, trainees can enrol on a year-round basis and are entitled to a full range of coordinated and customised training and employment support services, including pre-employment training, one-month workplace attachment training, on-the-job training of six to 12 months, reimbursement of off-the-job course and examination fees up to $4,000 per trainee, as well as case management services rendered by registered social workers.

 

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5.30

The response of young people to the revamped programme was favourable. From its commencement on 14 August 2009 up to the end of 2009, some 10 700 applications were received.

 

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Youth Employment Support

5.31

The Labour Department operates two youth employment resource centres named Youth Employment Start (Y.E.S.). The two centres provide one-stop service on employment and self-employment to young people aged between 15 and 29 to facilitate them to map out their career path, enhance their employability and support young people to pursue self-employment. Services provided include career assessment, career guidance, professional counselling, value-adding training, support services on employment and self-employment as well as up-to-date labour market information. In 2009, the two centres provided services to 71 680 young people.

Business members discussing work plans with partners in the business room of Y.E.S..

Business members discussing work plans with partners in the business room of Y.E.S..

 

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Internship Programme for University Graduates

5.32

As a special and time-limited initiative launched against the backdrop of the financial tsunami, the Internship Programme for University Graduates (GIP) encourages enterprises to offer internship and employment opportunities for university graduates of 2008 and 2009, with a view to broadening their horizons, enriching their experience and fostering their career development.

 

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5.33

For local internships, graduates receive training in their capacity as employees, and are paid wages commensurate with the duties, responsibilities and training contents of the posts. During the period of internship, an employer receives a training subsidy of $2,000 per intern per month from the Government.

 

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5.34

GIP also provided for the first time internship opportunities on the Mainland under the auspices of the Government, giving university graduates valuable chances to acquire first-hand knowledge of the operation of Mainland enterprises and the development of Mainland economy. Mainland internships are not premised on an employment relationship. An intern on the Mainland is entitled to receive a living allowance of $3,000 and, depending on circumstances, an accommodation allowance of $1,500 each month from the Government.

Interns sharing their internship experience at the Exchange Forum held in Beijing.

Interns sharing their internship experience at the Exchange Forum held in Beijing.

 

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5.35 Since commencement of enrolment to GIP on 1 August 2009 and up to the end of 2009, 1 302 graduates have secured employment in Hong Kong through the Programme. Their average monthly salary was $8,800, with the highest offer being $22,000. For Mainland internships, over 200 graduates had taken up internships in different Mainland cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
 

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Regulating Local Employment Agencies and Employment Outside Hong Kong

   
5.36

We monitor the operation of employment agencies through licensing, inspection and investigation of complaints. In 2009, we issued 1 998 employment agency licences, revoked two licences and rejected one licence application. As at year-end, there were 2 002 licensed employment agencies in Hong Kong. A total of 1 326 inspections were made to employment agencies in the year.

 

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5.37 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 into in Hong Kong involving manual employees and non-manual employees with monthly wages not exceeding $20,000.
 

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Regulating Labour Importation
   

Supplementary Labour Scheme

5.38

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 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.

 

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5.39

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 can 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.

 

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5.40 As at the end of 2009, there were 1 595 imported workers working in Hong Kong under the Supplementary Labour Scheme.
 

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Policy on Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs)

   
5.41 FDHs have been admitted to work in Hong Kong since the early 1970’s. Apart from enjoying the same statutory rights and benefits as all employees in Hong Kong, FDHs are further protected by a written Standard Employment Contract. The Standard Employment Contract prescribed that, inter alia, the employer had to provide to the FDH free accommodation with reasonable privacy, free food (or food allowance in lieu), free passage to and from the FDH’s place of origin and free medical treatment, etc. Furthermore, the Government had since the 1970s prescribed a Minimum Allowable Wage for FDHs as an additional safeguard against exploitation. The Government attached great importance to safeguarding their statutory and contractual rights. Claims of breach of statutory rights were promptly investigated and prosecution action would be taken out if there was sufficient evidence. In the year, the Department also widely publicised the rights and benefits of FDHs by, for instance, staging four information kiosks for FDHs at places they frequently gather on their rest days in February, August and September. The event attracted over 24 000 visitors. The Department also maintained close liaison with consulates of the FDH-exporting countries, non-government organisations serving FDHs and FDH employer groups to better address issues relating to importation of FDHs.
 

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5.42 As at the end of 2009, there were 267 778 FDHs in Hong Kong, an increase of 4.4 per cent compared with 256 597 in 2008. About 49 per cent of the FDHs in Hong Kong were from Indonesia and 48 per cent from the Philippines.