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LCQ9: Unemployment rate for youth
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    Following is the question by the Hon Howard Young and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (March 14):

Question:

     It has been reported that although the unemployment rate for the most recent quarter remained at 4.4%, the number of cases involving unemployed persons aged below 30 who had been receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance continuously for three years had increased rather than decreased.  It has also been reported that currently there are about 18,000 hermit youths in Hong Kong, representing a sharp two-fold increase over the projection of 6,000 in 2005.  The figure has directly pushed up the unemployment rate for youth and the situation is serious.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has conducted surveys on unemployed youth aged between 15 and 29 (covering such aspects as the duration of their unemployment, educational qualifications, strengths, districts of residence, family background, and whether they have to support parents and make mortgage repayments, etc.); if so, of the survey results; if not, whether it will consider conducting a comprehensive survey;

(b) of the number of cases, received by the Government in each of the past three years, in which unemployed youth requested for assistance and, among such cases, the number of those in which the Government had successfully assisted them in securing employment;

(c) whether the authorities have, besides continuing to implement the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and the Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme as well as setting up Youth Employment Resource Centres, formulated short-term, mid-term and long-term measures to assist youth (especially hermit youths) in entering the job market, so as to thoroughly improve the employment situation of youth; if so, of the details?

Reply:

Madam President,

(a) According to figures provided by the Census & Statistics Department (C&SD) (as shown in Annex 1), the unemployment rates and the number of jobless young people aged 15 to 29 in the past three years have been on the decrease.  With the revival of the labour market, the employment of young people is improving steadily.

     On the background of the unemployed youths aged 15 to 29, C&SD provides the following data based on the results of the General Household Survey (as shown in Annexes 2, 3 and 4).  

     Notes: Figures presented in Annexes 1 to 4 are statistics which involve the use of the population figures in the compilation process. They have been revised to take into account the recent enhancements in the estimation method and the results of the 2006 Population By-census which provided a benchmark for revising the population figures compiled since the 2001 Population Census. Figures do not add up to total due to rounding.

(b) As the local economy improves, the number of unemployed youths receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) has decreased.  The number of unemployed youths aged 15 to 29 receiving CSSA in the past three years is shown in Annex 5.

     The Social Welfare Department (SWD) has implemented the Support for Self-reliance (SFS) Scheme since June 1999 and stepped up its measures since June 2003 to encourage and assist able-bodied unemployed CSSA recipients including youths to move towards employment and self-reliance.  Under the SFS Scheme, the young able-bodied unemployed CSSA recipients have to take part in the Active Employment Assistance Programme, Community Work Programme or other trial employment assistance projects including Intensive Employment Assistance Projects and My STEP - Special Training and Enhancement Programme, to improve their employability and motivation to work.  Since June 1999 and up to the end of January 2007, a total of 78,650 persons including youths had secured employment after participating in the SFS scheme.

     SWD also encourages Non-governmental Organisations operating Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres (ICYSCs) to provide, among others, employment support services to unemployed youths.  

     The Labour Department (LD) also provides employment service to all job-seekers, including youths, through a network of 12 Job Centres, the Interactive Employment Service website and the Telephone Employment Service Centre.  The number of job-seekers aged 15 to 29 placed into employment through referral of LD in the past three years is shown in Annex 6.

     As the bulk of the vacancies disseminated by LD provide information on how to contact employers directly and since a considerable number of job-seekers are successful in their direct applications to such employers, the above figures do not include these successful placements.
 
(c) LDs Youth Pre-employment Training Programme (YPTP) and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme (YWETS) provide pre-employment and on-the-job training to enhance the employability of young people aged 15 to 24.  To flexibly meet market needs, LD will continue to develop new training courses in collaboration with training bodies, and strengthen promotion of tailor-made employment projects.

     To reinforce employment support for youths, LD is in the process of setting up two Youth Employment Resource Centres to provide one-stop advisory and support services on employment and self-employment to past and existing trainees of YPTP and YWETS as well as all youths aged 15 to 29.

     SWD will also continue to assist young people on CSSA to obtain employment under SFS and encourage ICYSCs to provide employment support services to unemployed youths.

     In addition, the Government set up in 2004 the Task Force on Continuing Development and Employment-related Training for Youth, and set aside $50 million to finance pilot projects on training programmes for non-engaged youths and related research studies.  A total of 22 pilot projects have been supported by the Fund, providing about 5,600 training places for non-engaged youths.  After examining the effectiveness of the pilot projects and the findings of related research studies, the Task Force will submit a report with recommendations to the Government in early 2008.

     The Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to enhance the employability of young people through education, skills training and employment support.

Ends/Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:19

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