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LCQ6:Sunnyway - On the Job Training Programme for Young People with Disabilities
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     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (March 28):

Question:

     With respect to vocational rehabilitation service, 15 social service units are at present participating in Sunnyway - On the Job Training Programme for Young People with Disabilities (Sunnyway) to provide supported employment services to young persons with disabilities or early signs of mental illness, with a view to enhancing their employability. Some members of the sector have reflected that as Sunnyway only targets at young people aged between 15 to 25, the number of participants of the programme is smaller than expected. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the original estimate of places that may be offered under Sunnyway and the actual number of participants in each of the past three years, broken down by the social service unit participating in Sunnyway as set out in Annex 1;

(b) whether the Social Welfare Department will consider removing the age limit of Sunnyway immediately so as to optimise the use of places available under it and minimise or avoid surplus places;

(c) of the number and percentage of Sunnyway participants who succeeded in seeking employment in each of the past three years, together with the respective numbers and percentages of those participants, broken down by cohort of participants, who had worked continuously for half a year or more and for one year or more; how the authorities enhance the stability and continuity of the participants' employment; and

(d) among each cohort of participants who had completed Sunnyway in the past three years, of the number and percentage of those who so far had not yet found a job; and regarding those who had already completed the programme for one year but still had not found a job, whether the social service units concerned need to continue to provide training services for them; if so, of the amount of funding allocated by the authorities for providing training to this type of participants; if not, what other services the authorities provide to help them?

Reply:

President,

     The Social Welfare Department (SWD) launched the On the Job Training Programme for People with Disabilities (OJT Programme) in 2001 to provide individual counseling, job matching, job attachment and post-placement service to persons with disabilities aged 15 or above. Under the OJT Programme, wage subsidy is also granted to employers during the job trial period to encourage them to offer job opportunities for persons with disabilities. On the basis of the operational experience of the OJT Programme, SWD further launched the Sunnyway íV On the Job Training Programme for Young People with Disabilities (Sunnyway Programme) in 2005 to specifically provide on the job training service to young persons aged between 15 and 24 with disabilities or early signs of mental illness. As the Sunnyway Programme generally targets at those young persons who have just left school and have no working experience, apart from drawing reference to the service mode of the OJT Programme, it specifically provides about 180 hours of employment training to each service user so as to enhance the effectiveness of the service.

     My reply to the Hon Cheung Kwok-che's question is as follows:

(a) At present, there are 15 non-governmental organisations operating the Sunnyway Programme (operators) (listed in Annex 2). They are required to enroll a total of 311 new participants annually according to their service agreements with SWD. The overall actual numbers of participants of the Sunnyway Programme in the past three years were as follows:

Year(Note 1)  Number of participants(Note 2)

            Agreed  Actual       Rate of
            number  number       compliance(%)
                                 (Note 3)
               
2008-09      311   302            97.1
2009-10      311   314(Note 4)   101.0
2010-11      311   303            97.4

Note 1: The service year covers the period from October 1 of the year to September 30 of the following year.

Note 2: The number represents the overall figures of the 15 operators.

Note 3: Rate of compliance is derived by dividing the actual number by the agreed number.

Note 4: Depending on the service demand and resources available, an operator may over-enroll the number of new participants. Therefore, the actual number of participants of some of the operators may exceed the agreed number.

     Since the services delivered by individual operators are affected by various factors such as the service needs and abilities of participants, requirements set by employers etc, the actual numbers of participants served and rates of compliance vary among operators. In this regard, it is not appropriate to make comparison of the relevant figures among individual operators. We consider that the above overall figures have already reflected the effectiveness of the Sunnyway Programme in the past three years.

(b) As mentioned above, the Sunnyway Programme is specifically designed for young persons with disabilities or early signs of mental illness.  Hence, when launching the Programme in 2005, SWD set the target group as those aged between 15 (ie the school-leaving age) and 24.

(c) According to the operational experience of the Sunnyway Programme, half of the participants were young persons with early signs of mental illness. In this light, SWD has raised the age limit for the target group of the Sunnyway Programme to 25 since 2008 so as to dovetail with the age limit for participants of the Hospital Authority's Early Assessment and Detection of Young Persons with Psychosis programme.

     Given that the overall effectiveness and compliance rate of the Sunnyway Programme are satisfactory, SWD has no plan to change its age limit. Persons with disabilities aged 26 or above who are in need of the service may consider joining the OJT Programme or the Labour Department's Work Orientation and Placement Scheme.

(c) The operators are required to review regularly the training and rehabilitation needs of each participant in accordance with their service agreements with SWD. They are also required to provide no less than 6 months of post-placement service to provide appropriate training and support to the participants, thereby enhancing their working ability, job stability and sustainability. In addition, the operators should assist a certain number of participants per year in securing open employment in accordance with the service agreements, and to submit information to SWD on the number of participants who have secured open employment for 6 months or more and have a monthly salary over $1,500. The relevant figures in the past three years were as follows:

Year(Note 5) Number of participants who have
             secured open employment(Note 6)

             Agreed     Actual  Rate of
             number     number  Compliance(%)
                                (Note 7)

2008-09      97          106      109.3%
2009-10      92(Note 8)  105      114.1%
2010-11      92(Note 8)  107      116.3%

Note 5: The service year covers the period from October 1 of the year to September 30 of the following year.

Note 6: The number represents the overall figures of the 15 operators.

Note 7: Rate of compliance is derived by dividing the actual number by the agreed number.

Note 8: SWD have made a minor adjustment to the agreed number since 2009íV10 following a review of the operation of the service.

     As SWD does not request the operators to collect data on participants who have secured open employment for one year or more, we do not have statistics in this respect.

(d) As SWD does not request the operators to collect data on participants who have not yet engaged in open employment upon completion of the one-year programme, we do not have information on the related statistics and expenditure. Notwithstanding, the operators will continue to provide services to these participants and arrange appropriate training and support to assist them in securing open employment having regard to the circumstances and needs of individual participants. In 2012-13, the estimated financial provision for the Sunnyway Programme will be $10 million.

Ends/Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:49

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