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Speech by SLW at Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day today (June 28):

Dear John (John Chan, Chairman), Winfried (Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer), Deputy Commissioner Yang (Yang Zigang, Deputy Commissioner, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the HKSAR), members of the Board of Stewards, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. I feel deeply honoured to join you at the 5th Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Day. The Community Day has become an important annual fixture in Hong Kong Jockey Club's calendar. It is designed to celebrate the successful partnership between the Government, the Jockey Club and its many charity and community partners. It not only provides a valuable occasion for building rapport and reinforcing bonds, but also an opportunity to demonstrate the importance that the Jockey Club attaches to fulfilling its corporate social responsibility.

     The Jockey Club's not-for-profit business model is unique in the world and has been the envy of many countries. Over the years, the Jockey Club has made immense contributions to Hong Kong on three fronts. First, it generates stable tax revenue for the Government. Second, it provides significant job opportunities. Third, it makes huge donations to charitable causes.   
     The Jockey Club is much more than a financial benefactor. Through its diverse range of charitable contributions, the Club plays a key role in providing timely and multifaceted support for Hong Kong's ever growing and evolving social welfare needs. It also works closely with community partners from the Government, academia and non-governmental organisations to come up with effective, long-term solutions. In short, not only does the Jockey Club help address our social needs today but it also invests in the future of Hong Kong through the promotion of a caring, harmonious and socially inclusive society.

     As Secretary for Labour and Welfare, job creation and preservation as well as poverty alleviation and provision of social welfare services for the needy are my prime concerns. I am sure that you will agree with me that behind each job stands a family. Indeed, full employment is the bedrock of social harmony. With our unemployment rate hitting a 42-month high of 5.3 % as a result of the financial tsunami, the Government has been leaving no stone unturned in stabilising Hong Kong's financial system, supporting enterprises and preserving jobs. We are seeing some early results of the Government's various economic stimulus and relief measures. The latest unemployment rate showed that the labour market is stabilising, with job gains for the first time since the beginning of the year.

     In this respect, I would like to pay warm tribute to the Jockey Club on two counts. First, as one of Hong Kong's largest employers with 25,000 full-time and part-time job opportunities for people from all walks of life, the Jockey Club is committed to preserving and creating jobs even when it is seeing a drop in turnover.

     Second, I am most grateful that the Jockey Club has delivered its pledge and opened its telebet-cum-volunteers and training centre in Tin Shui Wai two months ago. On full development, this centre will provide a further 2,500 part-time job opportunities. More importantly, this centre will bring various training opportunities to the residents so that they can develop their talents and skills whilst its volunteers will help promote community bonding and inject vitality and warmth into Tin Shui Wai. In short, the centre will generate multiple benefits and is a creative and all-win formula.   

     Whilst on the subject of jobs, let me say that with the large number of school leavers and graduates joining the labour force in the next few months, the Government has been redoubling its efforts to create job and training opportunities for youths. We have secured funding of $140 million to launch the University Graduates Internship Scheme this August to offer 4,000 places for our university graduates.  They will work as interns and receive training in Hong Kong or Mainland enterprises for six to 12 months. The scheme will provide a much-needed entry point into the employment market when vacancies are scarce. It will also present a valuable opportunity for work experience to be gained and for a network of contacts to be built up.

     For youths aged 15 to 24 with educational attainment of sub-degree or below, we will integrate our two flag-ship youth employment programmes, namely the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and the Youth Work Experience Training Scheme currently run by the Labour Department to provide through-train training and employment support for 35,000 youths over the next two years. We have earmarked funds amounting to $350 million for this purpose.

     Last but not least, may I take this opportunity to thank all the representatives of NGOs, charity groups and corporations who are present today for your dedicated and unstinting support over the years to help make Hong Kong a better, compassionate and caring community.

     Thank you.

Ends/Sunday, June 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:00


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