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CE chairs seventh meeting of second-term Human Resources Planning Commission (with photo)
     The Chief Executive (CE), Mrs Carrie Lam, chaired the seventh meeting of the second-term Human Resources Planning Commission (HRPC) this morning (June 6). The meeting was the last meeting of the HRPC within this term of Government. 

     Mrs Lam said, "To further develop Hong Kong into a high value-added and diversified economy, the current-term Government is committed to boosting and enhancing Hong Kong's human resources. Apart from nurturing local talents, we also proactively attracted more non-local talents, with a view to addressing the challenge brought about by the bottleneck in our manpower supply. In this regard, since assuming office, I announced the establishment of the HRPC in the 2017 Policy Address as a high-level commission to consolidate resources and efforts of the Government and various sectors in society to review and co-ordinate policies and measures on human resources planning in a holistic manner." 

     At the meeting, Members reviewed and generally affirmed the efforts of the current-term Government in nurturing local talents and attracting Mainland and overseas talents in the following five areas, with a view to meeting Hong Kong's present and future need for talents:

(i) Nurturing local talents: The current-term Government increased the recurrent expenditure in education in the past five years by 27.1 per cent, from $80.2 billion in 2017-18 to the estimated expenditure of $101.9 billion in 2022-23. In particular, the Government proactively invested in tertiary education and research. At present, all graduates of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education attaining "3322" can receive subsidised undergraduate education in institutions funded by the University Grants Committee, or continue their education through subsidy schemes including the Non-means-tested Subsidy Scheme for Self-financing Undergraduate Studies or the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors. To further promote the development of Hong Kong's research and development, the Government injected $20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund and earmarked $3 billion to launch the Research Matching Grant Scheme. Furthermore, the current-term Government is also committed to promoting vocational and professional education and training. The Pilot Training and Support Scheme of the Vocational Training Council was regularised in the 2019/20 academic year, and the Pilot Project on the Development of Applied Degree Programmes was launched in December 2020, with participating tertiary education institutions to launch relevant applied degree programmes in the 2022/23 academic year at the earliest;

(ii) Training and retraining: In response to Hong Kong's development towards a knowledge-based and high value-added economy, the current-term Government is committed to providing training and retraining to help people adapt to the new economy and trades. In 2018, the Government injected $10 billion into the Continuing Education Fund, which currently offers over 10 000 registered courses, substantially increased by 28 per cent compared to 7 800 courses in 2018. The Employees Retraining Board also offers over 700 regular courses, covering 28 industries and various generic skills;

(iii) Grooming innovation and technology (I&T) talents: The current-term Government has unprecedentedly invested over $150 billion to date in developing infrastructure, promoting research and development, nurturing talent and supporting the industry, etc. In order to nurture students' interest in I&T from a young age, the Government has been subsidising secondary and primary schools to organise relevant extra-curricular activities through the IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools and Knowing More About IT Programmes respectively. To encourage young people to enter the I&T sector, the Government launched the STEM Internship Scheme and the Research Talent Hub in 2020 to provide internship opportunities to university students and fund local enterprises and research institutes to recruit university graduates to conduct research and development work. To better leverage Hong Kong's solid technological foundation and research capability, the Government introduced the Global STEM Professorship Scheme to support universities in recruiting internationally renowned I&T scholars and their teams to conduct research and teaching activities in Hong Kong; 

(iv) Unleashing the potential of the local labour force: To mitigate the impact brought about by a shrinking labour force by encouraging employment, the current-term Government is committed to enhancing labour protection, which includes increasing statutory paternity and maternity leave to five days and 14 weeks respectively in 2018 and 2020, as well as progressively increasing the statutory holidays to 17 days starting from 2022 to bring the level on par with the number of general holidays. On the other hand, the Government enhanced child care services by increasing the service places of aided standalone child care centres by about 15 per cent, and regularised the Pilot Scheme on Relaxing the Household Income Limit of the Fee-waiving Subsidy Scheme under the After School Care Programme for Low-income Families and Increasing Fee-waiving Subsidy Places in 2020 under the Community Care Fund. The Government also launched a pilot scheme in 2020 to provide elderly persons, youths and persons with disabilities with a retention allowance, with a view to encouraging them to undergo and complete on-the-job training, thereby stabilising their employment;

(v) Attracting Mainland and overseas talents: The current-term Government enhanced various talent admission schemes to more proactively attract talents to come to Hong Kong to enrich the talent pool. The Government enhanced the Talent List in 2021, and doubled the quota of the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme twice to the current quota of 4 000 per year. To attract more I&T talents, the Government launched the Technology Talent Admission Scheme in 2018 to provide fast-track arrangement for admitting non-local talents to conduct research and development work in Hong Kong in 13 areas, covering artificial intelligence, biotechnology and 5G communications, etc; 

     Members discussed and noted the challenges brought about by the shrinking labour force under the pandemic in the past two years. The economic recession under the pandemic, coupled with various other factors such as the drop in the working age population and the continued ageing population, have brought about a decrease in Hong Kong's labour force (excluding foreign domestic helpers) from around 3.66 million persons in 2019 to around 3.54 million persons in 2021. Talent admissions were also seriously affected by the pandemic, with the number of talents admitted substantially reduced from around 67 000 in 2019 to around 32 000 in 2021, mainly attributable to the drop in short-term visas. 

     Members also noted the Government launched the Pilot Scheme on Immigration Facilitation for Visitors Participating in Short-term Activities in Designated Sectors earlier this month for a period of two years, covering 10 sectors including medical and healthcare, higher education, arts and culture, I&T, international/mega events, etc. Host organisations authorised by the relevant government bureaux/departments can issue invitation letters to relevant non-local talents in their sectors. Invited persons may come to Hong Kong to participate in designated short-term activities as visitors, without the need to apply for employment visas/entry permits from the Immigration Department. Members welcomed the Scheme, which enables talents around the world to understand Hong Kong's advantages through participating in relevant short-term activities and attracts them to choose Hong Kong as the place to further their careers or expand their businesses, thereby strengthening Hong Kong's competitiveness. 

     Mrs Lam thanked Members for providing advice on human resources planning to the current-term Government. She expressed the hope that the next term of Government can continue to enhance facilitation for Mainland and overseas talents to come and work in Hong Kong, whilst strengthening the nurturing and retaining of local talents, so as to further promote Hong Kong's economic diversification to meet the development needs of society. 

     The Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) is the Chairman of the HRPC. In view of the vacancy of the office of the CS, today's meeting was chaired by the CE.
Ends/Monday, June 6, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:41
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The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, chaired the seventh meeting of the second-term Human Resources Planning Commission this morning (June 6).