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LCQ5: Employment support services provided for ethnic minorities
     Following is a question by the Hon Shiu Ka-chun and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):


     The responsible person of a welfare organisation providing services for the ethnic minorities (EMs) has relayed to me that the Labour Department (LD) has failed to provide tailor-made assistance for job seekers of South Asian descent and the employment support services currently provided by LD for EMs (e.g. "Employment Services Ambassador Programme for Ethnic Minorities" and the special counters and resource corners provided at job centres) are not effective at all.  Regarding the employment support services provided by LD for EMs, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the special counters, including (i) their set-up dates, (ii) their present locations, (iii) the special services provided at such counters, (iv) the staffing establishment for providing such services (with a breakdown by rank) and the relevant training received by them, and (v) the number of cases handled in the past three years with a breakdown by type of cases; whether it will consider increasing the number of such counters; if so, of the increase; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) as some concern groups have relayed that only information such as leaflets on support service centres for EMs and information on other social resources, which is not related to employment, is provided at the resource corners, whether LD will make improvement in this respect; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) of the existing means or channels through which LD encourages employers to employ EM job seekers; whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the efforts made in this respect; if so, of the outcome;

(4) of the existing means or channels (other than during the period when LD recruits employers to join inclusive job fairs) through which LD encourages potential employers to set lower language proficiency requirements for job seekers as far as possible, so as to enable more EMs to apply for the vacancies concerned; whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the efforts made in this respect; if so, of the outcome; and

(5) given that the Panel on Manpower of this Council passed a motion at its meeting on March 15, 2016, requesting the Government to establish an Ethnic Minorities Employment Division in one of the job centres of LD, at which fluent English-speaking EM staff are employed to provide employment support services for non-Chinese-speaking people, whether LD has adopted any follow-up measures in this respect; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the Hon Shiu Ka-chun's question is as follows:

(1) Since July 2008, special counters have been set up at Labour Department (LD)'s job centres to provide ethnic minority (EM) job seekers with job referral services. The locations of the 13 job centres are at Annex. Special counters are manned by experienced employment officers who are university graduates and proficient in English. Apart from general job referral services, staff of the special counters also arrange personalised employment advisory service for individual EM job seekers and guide them on the use of facilities at the job centres, etc. in accordance with their needs. To raise the multi-cultural sensitivity of the employment officers, LD invites non-governmental organisations (NGOs) serving EMs to deliver talks from time to time on different cultural and religious customs as well as skills in communicating with EMs. LD also collaborates with the Equal Opportunities Commission on provision to staff of job/recruitment centres training on equal opportunities and multi-culture.

     LD's job centres flexibly adjust manpower deployed to special counters and other counters from time to time based on the service demand among various groups of job seekers. LD does not keep statistics in respect of services provided to EM job seekers through the special counters. According to LD's continuous monitoring of the utilisation of the special counters, the current arrangements meet EM job seekers' demand for the service concerned.

(2) Resource corners for EM job seekers are set up at LD's job centres to provide them with employment information. Apart from the leaflets published by the Support Service Centres for Ethnic Minorities, resource corners are also equipped with a wide range of publications and practical guides on job search written in English, such as newspapers providing job vacancy information, books and magazines on job hunting tips, reference books on resume-writing, dictionaries in different EM languages, Chinese-English common vocabularies for job interviews (with Romanised Cantonese), information on training and retraining (including Chinese language courses), etc. LD will continue to identify suitable materials on job search which cater to the needs of EM job seekers to enrich the collection of the resource corners.

(3) and (4) To encourage employers to hire EMs, LD has been actively promoting the working abilities of EMs among employers through different channels, and reminding them to consider the genuine needs of the posts when specifying the language requirement.

     To help employers better understand the cultures of EMs and to canvass vacancies suitable for EMs, LD organises experience sharing sessions regularly for employers. NGOs serving EMs are invited to participate in these sessions. LD publishes success employment cases of EMs in the newspapers to help the public and employers better understand EMs' working abilities. These cases are also published in promotional leaflets and uploaded to the employers' zone and dedicated webpage for EM job seekers on the Interactive Employment Service (iES) website, so as to encourage employers to employ EMs. Furthermore, LD organises large-scale and district-based inclusive job fairs to enhance the employment opportunities of EMs.

     LD has been encouraging employers to relax their language requirement so as to enable more EMs to apply for their vacancies. When employers are filling in the Vacancy Order Form on the iES website, LD displays messages at different stages to remind them to specify the language requirement based on the genuine needs of the job, and suggest they could adopt a lower language requirement to attract more job seekers to apply for the vacancies. When providing personalised employment advisory service to EM job seekers, employment officers help them identify jobs which correspond with their individual circumstances. If necessary, employment officers proactively contact the employers to encourage them to adopt a more flexible language requirement.

     Since March 2015, LD has added an option of "Ethnic minorities are welcome for the post" in its Vacancy Order Form for employers to choose from so as to facilitate employment officers in matching suitable jobs for EM job seekers and encourage EMs to apply for the posts. From March to December 2015, job vacancies with such indication amounted to 97 040, and further increased to 140 255 in the same period of 2016. In parallel, the number of job vacancies with little Chinese language requirement (including those not requiring the applicants to be able to read or write Chinese) has also increased from 69 537 in 2015 to 72 081 in 2016.

(5) LD has all along been providing dedicated services, such as the special counters, resource corners and employment briefings, etc to cater for the employment needs of EMs. LD operates 13 job centres across the territory to facilitate the use of employment services by job seekers (including EMs) living in various districts. LD has also made arrangements with NGOs to provide interpretation services for EM job seekers who speak neither Chinese nor English.

     Since September 2014, LD has been implementing the Employment Services Ambassador Programme for Ethnic Minorities whereby trainees of the Youth Employment and Training Programme who can communicate in EM language are employed to serve as Employment Services Ambassadors (ESAs) to help EM job seekers make use of various job search facilities and services at job centres, recruitment centres and job fairs. EM job seekers may also meet employment officers at job centres to obtain personalised employment advisory service. Experienced employment officers, who are familiar with the local employment market and proficient in English, provide EM job seekers with job search advice and employment information in accordance with their individual needs and preferences, and match them with suitable jobs. At the same time, LD continues canvassing and disseminating vacancies suitable for EMs, and organising inclusive job fairs to enhance their employment opportunities.

     In 2017, LD will, on a pilot basis, engage a total of two staff proficient in EM languages to partner with experienced employment officers at the Kowloon West Job Centre in Sham Shui Po and the Employment in One-stop in Tin Shui Wai to serve EM job seekers.

     LD will continue to provide dedicated employment services suited to the needs of EM job seekers in different districts through its existing job centres, wide-ranging services, vast employer network, and EM ESAs. LD will continue engaging staff proficient in EM languages at the two selected job centres to strengthen the services provided to EM job seekers.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:11
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