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LCQ6: Recruitment to fill civil service vacancies

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Pan Pey-chyou and a reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, in the Legislative Council today (May 30):


     Civil servants recruited in the 1980s will soon retire one after another in the next few years.  The Civil Service Bureau has projected that the annual number of civil servants reaching their retirement age will be around 6,900 in the five-year period ending 2020-2021, reaching a peak of the number of civil servants retiring.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities have any specific policy in place to expedite the recruitment and promotion processes, so as to fill the vacancies arising from the aforesaid retirement of civil servants; if they have, of the timetable and details;

(b) whether the authorities will reconsider directly employing non-civil service contract staff with good performance as civil servants through internal recruitment and test, so as to shorten the recruitment process and save the time for training the staff afresh; if they will, of the details; if not, the difficulties they encounter; and

(c) given that based on the age profile of the Civil Service during the period from 1986 to 2011, the age group with the largest number of civil servants shifted upwards from 20-29 to 40-49, whether the authorities have any measure to expedite the employment of more younger staff in the Civil Service (e.g. more proactively recruit graduates from tertiary institutions to join the Civil Service), so as to tackle the serious ageing problem in the Civil Service; if so, of the details?



     Regarding part (a) of the question, since 2007-08, the Administration has gradually resumed open recruitment to fill civil service vacancies.  While upholding the principle of appointment by merit through a fair, open and competitive process, recruitment procedures have been streamlined to shorten the time required for conducting recruitment exercises.  For instance, in cases where there are a large number of vacancies in a certain rank and a large number of candidates applying for posts in that rank, the recruiting department will invite the candidates to attend written tests and/or interviews while assessing whether they possess the basic academic qualifications and/or experience required at the same time.  By proceeding with two procedures in parallel, the recruitment process can be expedited.  The recruiting department may also convene a number of selection boards simultaneously to process a large number of job applications.  In addition, where necessary, the recruiting department will take such measures as exercising flexibility in allowing the candidates to undergo medical examinations after appointment, or waiving the requirement of submitting reference letters issued by current employers.  As for promotion, departments will proceed with promotion exercises based on anticipated civil service vacancies so that such vacancies can be filled as soon as they actually arise or within a short period of time.

     As for part (b) of the question, it is the Government's policy to select the most suitable persons for civil service vacancies through an open, fair and competitive process.  As the circumstances and nature of the employment of non-civil service contract (NCSC) staff are different from those of civil servants and the entry requirements as well as selection process for NCSC posts may also differ from those of civil service posts, it is not appropriate to directly employ NCSC staff as civil servants.  Serving NCSC staff may apply for civil service posts through an open and fair recruitment process if they are interested in such posts.  We welcome applications for civil service posts from NCSC staff.  In this connection, bureaux/departments have put in place a mechanism to disseminate to serving NCSC staff information on open recruitment for civil service vacancies.  Since relevant working experience is one of the factors taken into account in the recruitment of civil servants, we believe that NCSC staff who meet the basic entry requirements of civil service ranks should generally enjoy a competitive edge over other applicants because of their work experience in the Government.  As for "in-service recruitment", its purpose is to select suitable candidates from serving civil servants to fill civil service vacancies.  As NCSC staff are not civil servants, "in-service recruitment" is not applicable to them.

     As regards part (c) of the question, the upward trend in the age profile of the Civil Service in recent years can be traced back to the significant growth of the Civil Service in the 1980s.  Many of the civil servants recruited then have now reached the age of 50 or so.  The upward trend in the age profile of the Civil Service also has to do with the substantial downsizing of the Civil Service and the Government's policy of freezing open recruitment of civil servants unless absolutely necessary at the turn of the century.  Since 2007-08, the number of civil servants has been on the rise again every year.  Following this and the gradual resumption of the open recruitment freeze, more young people have been recruited to the Civil Service.  According to relevant data, new recruits who fall within the age group of 20 to 29 account for two thirds of the total intake in the four-year period from 2007-08 to 2010-11.  In addition, the number of civil servants in this age group has increased from 7% of the total strength of the Civil Service in 2006-07 to about 10% in 2010-11.  We expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.  As more civil servants are expected to retire and the Government is conducting open recruitment for civil service vacancies on an on-going basis, we believe that the age profile of the Civil Service will continue along a downward trend.

     On recruiting graduates from tertiary institutions to the Civil Service, the Civil Service Bureau has maintained liaison and held regular meetings with the career centres of tertiary institutions so that they will be better informed of the matters relating to graduates joining the Civil Service and be able to relay relevant information to their students.  Also, the Government has launched the Post-Secondary Student Summer Internship Programme to provide internship placement opportunities during summer vacation to Hong Kong students attending post-secondary programmes.  Through the Programme, we hope to help students acquire a general understanding of the work of the Civil Service and hence arouse their interest in joining the Civil Service after graduation, and to enable the interns to gain valuable work experiences relating to the courses they attend or their areas of interests.  In the past three years, more than 40 bureaux/departments participated in the Programme each year and an annual average of over 900 students have been employed.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:42


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