LCQ8: Apprenticeship Scheme

     Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (June 22):


     Regarding the implementation of the Apprenticeship Ordinance (Cap. 47) (the Ordinance), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of apprentices who had registered under the Apprenticeship Scheme and engaged in the 45 designated trades under the Ordinance in the past three years, with a breakdown by the designated trade;

(b) of the number of persons aged over 18 or persons engaging in non-designated trades who had voluntarily applied to join the Apprenticeship Scheme, entered into contracts of apprenticeship with their employers and requested the Director of Apprentice to register the contracts under the Apprenticeship Scheme in the past three years; among them, the number of cases approved and rejected, as well as the respective percentages, with a breakdown by trade;

(c) whether the authorities had proactively promoted the Apprenticeship Scheme to enterprises in the past three years, and encouraged employers to support and participate in the Apprenticeship Scheme after the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Cap. 608) came into effect; if they had, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) of the number of on-site inspections conducted by inspectors of apprentices in the past three years; among them, the number of cases identified and ruled by the courts to be in contravention of the Ordinance, as well as what acts of contravention were involved; whether the authorities have any plan to step up regulation and increase the penalties concerned upon the implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, so as to prevent some employers from exploiting cheap labour on the pretext of recruiting apprentices not bound by the Ordinance; and

(e) whether the authorities have any plan to conduct a comprehensive review on the implementation of the Ordinance, which includes examining the applicability of the 45 designated trades, enhancing the transparency of the Apprenticeship Scheme, and increasing the number of visits to apprentices and on-site inspections, etc.; if they have such a plan, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; given that the authorities have indicated in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on the Estimates of Expenditure 2011-2012 that the Vocational Training Council will draw up a new publicity plan to further enhance its promotional efforts on the Apprenticeship Scheme, whether they know the details of such publicity and promotional efforts?



(a) The number of apprentices registered under the 45 "designated trades" in accordance with the Apprenticeship Ordinance (Cap. 47) (the Ordinance) in the past three years is at table 1.

(b) Before participating in the "Apprenticeship Scheme", employers are required to demonstrate to the authorities their eligibility, including the capability to meet the requirements of the Ordinance in relation to engaging apprentices, such as having adequate training facilitates for providing structured on-the-job training to apprentices, indicate their willingness to sponsor and let apprentices attend specified courses, as well as accept monitoring of apprentice training by the Office of the Director of Apprenticeship.  

     In the past three years, all contracts of apprenticeship submitted by eligible employers were successfully registered. The number of apprentices (including those above the age of 18 in "designated trades" and those in non-designated trades) registered voluntarily is at table 2.

(c) The Vocational Training Council (VTC) is responsible for administering the "Apprenticeship Scheme" in accordance with the Ordinance.  VTC organises publicity activities regularly to promote the Scheme through different channels including various publicity campaigns, visits to employers to solicit their support and participation, setting up structured on-the-job training programmes for interested companies.  Upon the enactment of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, VTC has continued to conduct various publicity activities in accordance with the established publicity strategies.

(d) The Inspectors of Apprentices (IAs) undertake enforcement inspections in accordance with the Ordinance to regulate the employment of apprentices aged between 14 and 18 in "designated trades".  In addition, IAs also ensure that all registered apprentices (including those mandated to register under the Ordinance and those registered voluntarily) receive appropriate training through different types of visits.  In the past three years, the numbers of enforcement inspections and non-compliant cases are at table 3.

     As the employers concerned had rectified their practices in compliance with the Ordinance after receiving VTC's advice, no prosecution action was considered necessary.  Since the enactment of the Minimum Wage Ordinance, VTC has continued to ensure that the employers participating in the Scheme meet the eligibility requirements as set out in part (b). It will also conduct enforcement inspections.  While there is no need to further tighten the relevant regulatory arrangements, VTC will closely monitor the situation.

(e) Currently, the "Apprenticeship Scheme" covers about 140 "designated trades" and non-designated trades in an array of sectors including automobile, mechanical and electrical engineering, construction, jewellery as well as printing, with relevant posts such as craftsmen, technicians, engineering assistants and designers.  The Administration will keep the "Apprenticeship Scheme" under review, consider adjustments to the trades covered by the Scheme and improve the training contents and arrangements to meet the needs of the market.  Furthermore, VTC has streamlined the administration of the Scheme, re-planned and re-prioritised the scope of work, strengthened the monitoring of the training progress of apprentices as well as the related counselling and support.  VTC has also drawn up a new promotional plan that aims to introduce the "Apprenticeship Scheme" through the mass media, seminars and visits, with a view to attracting young people seeking to build their career to enrol and soliciting employers' support.

Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:56