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LCQ11: Manpower Projection to 2018

     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 (April 18):


     The Labour and Welfare Bureau submitted a paper to the Panel on Manpower of this Council on February 16 this year regarding the preliminary key findings of the Manpower Projection to 2018 (MP2018), which reveals that the overall manpower supply is estimated to be 14 000 people short of the overall manpower requirement in 2018 by broad education level. As early as the launch of the Qualifications Framework by the authorities, some members of the trade reflected to me that education qualification was not equivalent to actual working skills (eg an employee with high education qualification may not be able to take up a job for vehicle maintenance), and thus it was necessary to draw up standards on work experience and specifications of competency standards (SCS) for individual job positions. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) in addition to education level, whether the authorities had assessed the requirements on work experience and competency standards for individual job positions of different professions when drawing up MP2018; if they had not, of the reasons for that; whether the Government will analyse the relevant work experience and competency standards to project afresh the variances in manpower supply and demand for Hong Kong; and

(b) given that MP2018 reveals a shortfall of 22 000 people in the education category of upper secondary, craft, technician and sub-degree levels six years later, of the number of SCS-based vocational training courses to be provided by the Government in the next six years to meet the manpower shortfall?



     My reply to the question raised by the Hon Ip Wai-ming is as follows:

(a) The Government conducts Manpower Projection (MP) from time to time to assess the broad trends in the future manpower requirement and supply of our economy at the macro level, as well as the potential manpower balance at different education levels. It provides useful reference data for Government bureaux and departments as well as other stakeholders in further studies and policy formulation.  

     As regards the Qualifications Framework (QF), which was launched in 2008, it is a seven-level hierarchy that orders and supports qualifications of academic, vocational and continuing education sectors. Industry Training Advisory Committees have been set up in 18 industries, covering about 45% of the labour force. They are tasked to draw up specifications of competency standards (SCS) (Note 1) for their respective sectors. The Government has also extended the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism to seven industries which have completed their respective SCSs. As the implementation of QF in Hong Kong is a long-term endeavour and its development is still at an early stage, it is not practicable at this stage to collect views and related statistics from stakeholders, including employers and training bodies, on the existing and future manpower requirement and supply using parameters with reference to QF, such as competency standards, QF levels, QF-recognised qualifications or RPL qualifications. In the absence of reliable and comprehensive manpower statistics on this front, the Government could not make any corresponding analysis of the manpower requirement and supply in MP2018.

     Nonetheless, Government bureaux and departments as well as other stakeholders do keep under review the manpower situation of the respective industries which they are concerned with. They may consider the feasibility of sectoral manpower studies with reference to QF as and when more relevant data become available. We will also consider the methodology and coverage of future MP exercises, taking into account the availability of data and the statistical needs of different stakeholders.

(b) According to MP2018, there will be a projected shortfall of 22 000 workers in 2018 at the broad education level that covers upper secondary, craft, technician and sub-degree, with the manpower deficit falling solely at the upper secondary level and partly offset by surpluses at the other three levels.

     Based on the statistics collected from the related Government bureaux and departments as well as education institutions which in turn have been reflected in the projections of MP2018, the total annual supply of workers at upper secondary, craft, technician and sub-degree levels is projected to increase by 14 800 on average in the coming years up to 2018.  

     In the context of QF, there are currently around 365 SCS-based courses pitched at QF levels 1 to 4 which are broadly comparable to upper secondary, craft, technician and sub-degree levels respectively. The Government will continue to extend the RPL mechanism to more industry sectors as and when appropriate. With the growing maturity of QF and continuous efforts of the Government to solicit support from the stakeholders of different sectors, it is expected that more QF-recognised programmes will be provided in the years ahead.

Note 1: SCS, which sets out the skills, knowledge and outcome standards required of employees in the industry, provides a basis for course providers to design education and training courses that best suit the needs of the industry.

Ends/Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:38


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