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LCQ8: Pilot Employment Navigator Programme

     Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (February 6):


     The Labour Department (LD) launched the two-year Pilot Employment Navigator Programme (Pilot ENP) in December 2010 to replace the Job Matching Programme (JMP) which had been implemented since 1995.  The Pilot ENP, which aimed at enhancing employment assistance to job seekers, ended in mid-December 2012.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of participants in the Pilot ENP in the past two years; among them, the number and percentage of participants who had successfully secured employment, broken down by their gender, age and educational attainment; the respective numbers of participants so far who had stayed in employment for a continuous period of less than three months, three to less than six months, six months to one year and more than one year; whether the relevant employment figures met the original targets set by the authorities;

(b) given that participants who had completed any one of the specified periods of employment (ie the first day, the first month and the first three months) in the same employment might apply for the cash incentive for the stage concerned, of the number of those who had applied for cash incentive; among them, the respective numbers of participants whose applications had been approved and rejected; the number of participants who had been granted the corresponding cash incentive and the total amount involved for each stage, as well as the reasons for some participants not being granted cash incentive even though they had completed the specified periods of employment;

(c) of the total amount of administrative costs incurred in implementing the Pilot ENP in the past two years, together with a breakdown of such costs;

(d) of the trades formerly engaged by the participants in each of the past two years; among them, the respective numbers of those who had been unemployed for less than three months, three to six months and more than six months when they registered in the Pilot ENP;

(e) regarding the participants who had successfully secured employment under the Pilot ENP in each of the past two years, of the occupations engaged by them, and the details of their terms of employment, remuneration and number of working hours, etc;

(f) whether it has conducted a comprehensive review on the Pilot ENP; if it has, of the scope of the review, the criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the Pilot ENP and the assessment outcome; if not, the reasons for that;

(g) whether it will consider assigning some long-established or suitably experienced non-profit-making organisations or publicly-funded institutions to relaunch ENP as a regular programme; and

(h) with the cessation of both JMP and the Pilot ENP, how the authorities follow up the employment situation of participants, and the job changing arrangements for the staff, of the Pilot ENP; whether LD, apart from providing regular employment assistance services, has any alternative plans currently in place; if it has, of the details; if not, whether the authorities will consider relaunching these two programmes; if they will, of the details?



     My reply to the Hon Kwok Wai-keung's question is as follows:

(a) The Pilot Employment Navigator Programme (ENP) was implemented from December 13, 2010 to December 12, 2012. In the period, a total of 8 166 job seekers joined the Pilot ENP and received intensive employment consultation services. As at December 31, 2012, apart from 796 participants who could not be contacted or who were not willing to provide information on their employment situation, and 380 participants who had stopped looking for jobs for personal or health reasons, the Labour Department (LD) confirmed that 5 580 participants had secured employment, representing 68.3% of the total number of participants.  A breakdown of these 5 580 participants who had secured employment by sex, age and educational attainment is provided in tables 1 and 2.

     The participants of the Pilot ENP were generally not required to report to LD changes in their employment status. We therefore cannot provide statistics on the length of employment in respect of all participants who had found work.

     LD conducted a survey in June 2012 (one and a half year after the launching of the Pilot ENP) to collect information on the employment of the participants.  The survey analysed the employment status of 2 410 participants who had found work.  A breakdown of the length of employment in respect of these 2 410 participants is provided in table 3.

     Since at the time the survey was conducted, 1 828 of the 2 410 participants were still staying in their jobs, their actual length of employment would even be longer.

     The Pilot ENP aimed to assist the unemployed to secure employment and encourage them to stay in the job by providing them with intensive employment consultation services and cash incentive. Whether a participant can find work or stay in the job hinged on a number of reasons, including personal factors and the employment market situation. Thus, we had not pre-set a target on the number of participants who could secure employment.

(b) As at December 31, 2012, 932 participants had been approved cash incentive while 48 participants had not. The number of participants who had been approved cash incentive at various stages and the amount of cash incentive involved is provided in table 4.

     The major reasons for some participants who had completed the prescribed length of work but had not been approved cash incentive include: the participant's monthly salary exceeding the salary ceiling of the programme; the participant securing a job not listed under LD's employment service; the employment not being a full-time permanent job as required; and/or the participant failing to receive at least one month's employment consultation services under the programme, etc.

(c) As at December 31, 2012, the administration expenses under the Pilot ENP included some $0.6 million on publicity and promotion, and some $0.02 million on computer system support. The staff costs of the non-civil service contract employment officers responsible for providing intensive employment consultation services to the participants were about $4.97 million. To implement the Pilot ENP, LD also created 15 time-limited civil servant posts to undertake duties such as formulating the operation details of the programme, publicising and promoting the programme, vetting applications for cash incentive, handling enquiries and complaints relating to the programme and training the employment officers, etc.  As these officers were also engaged in other employment-related duties concurrently, we are unable to provide a breakdown on the amount of their salaries paid for implementing the Pilot ENP.

(d) A breakdown of the 8 166 ENP participants by industry of their employment prior to joining the programme is provided in table 5.

     Since the participants are not required to report to LD on their previous unemployment period, such information had not been kept by LD.

(e) A breakdown of the 5 580 ENP participants who had secured employment by occupational group, mode of employment (full-time or part-time) and salary is provided in tables 6 to 8.

     The participants of the Pilot ENP were generally not required to report to LD on the number of working hours of their employment. Hence, LD cannot provide such information.

(f) LD conducted a review of the Pilot ENP in the fourth quarter of 2012. It was observed that during the period the Pilot ENP was implemented, the labour market remained buoyant and the number of job openings had continuously increased. Job seekers found it easier to find work through their own efforts. Since the current employment market situation had much improved when compared to the time when the Pilot ENP was launched, the number of job seekers requiring LD's intensive employment consultation services had turned out to be smaller than originally expected. LD also analysed the length of employment in respect of the participants approved and not approved cash incentive and noticed that the effect of cash incentive in encouraging the participants to stay in work was not significant. After deliberations, we decided to end the programme upon completion of its two-year trial period.

(g) We have no plan to commission other organisations or institutions to continue operating the Pilot ENP.

(h) LD will continue to provide employment consultation services to the participants of the Pilot ENP until their registration expires. If the participants can secure an employment which meets the requirements of the Pilot ENP on or before June 30, 2013 and complete the prescribed length of service, they can still apply for the cash incentive. As such, LD staff are still required to continue providing employment consultation services to the participants of the Pilot ENP so as to assist the participants in securing employment, and to handle the cash incentive applications submitted by the participants for some more time. We will review the work arrangement of the concerned staff in due course.

     Following the cessation of the Pilot ENP, job seekers may continue to visit LD's Interactive Employment Service website to look for vacancy information anytime, or visit LD's Job Centres to make use of the job search facilities to find work. Job seekers may also call the Telephone Employment Service Hotline or approach Job Centres to seek job referral service from the staff. LD's Job Centres will also provide employment advisory and support services to needy job seekers. The employment officers will interview the job seekers and provide them with job search advice, including conducting career aptitude assessment, providing information on the latest employment market and retraining courses, and introducing the various special employment programmes of LD, such as the Work Trial Scheme and the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme, etc.

Ends/Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:21


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